Saturday, December 15, 2012

But wait! There's more...

As if having another baby in the family is not enough, we actually thought it felt like the right time to do this...

Yes - it was a quick and painless process to buy, but now we're having to deal with small improvements before moving in.  So, we are simplifying and decluttering.  This makes moving so much easier and it's needed because we're moving into a place smaller than what we are living in now!

As part of the simplifying process (and because I'm, you know, that a-retentive kinda gal), I'm trialling a new filing paper system.  I hoard paper so I feel I need to get a system down otherwise I drown in paper.  As it is, I can't find my marriage certificate or the birth certificates of my 2 eldest, but I can find the last 3 months worth of grocery receipts!!!  If the system works then I can invest in nice containers and possibly holes in the walls in the new place.

Don't worry - this kind of craziness only happens when you're awake and bleary-eyed at 2 in the morning suffering from sleep deprivation.

On another note... before Ms A came along, I was fortunate enough to have snagged a place in this workshop.  I have raved on about Nicole Mallalieu before and I will again.  Not only are her classes extremely informative and productive and inspiring, but they are so relaxed and fun and, for me, a treasured time to have a day of just sewing.

I was not able to finish this bag in the class, but I did eventually get around to it after Ms A was born.  And so here is another UFO-turned-FO.  This was another exercise of sewing for the love of sewing (and practising zipper insertions - 4 zips in total!) and has since found a home with my big sis.

The large tote bag pattern is a "beginners bag pattern" but that's more about the sewing ability and not about the finished product.  There are so many hints and tips in the pattern instructions, and taking the class is icing on the cake with more hints and tips for crisp finishes.  I'm pretty proud of this one and would venture to say that this is a handmade product, not just a homemade one.

Now I'm off to squeeze some more time in front of the sewing machine.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fresh out of the Oven

So, I've been a SAHM for a while... it's about time that I get back into the blog-o-sphere, and preferably with a firm commitment, eh?

So... "Hey moms, look what I made!!!"

Ms A was born one early Sunday morn, where she shot out like an over-excited bungy-jumper!  She surprised the heck out of me - when they placed her in my arms for the first time, I was still in shock and, quite literally, could not comprehend what I was holding.  Yeah sure - I had about 40weeks to get ready for this moment, but, when it happened, nature took over and left my mind behind in the dust where it caught up a couple of days later.  At least I had my baby in the hospital (*wink wink* hey D!).

She was a whopper of a baby coming out (well, compared to my other two!) and she defined a whole new birthing experience for me.  Many will assume that a third time mom should be an old hand at this, but no... not for me.  I couldn't even time my contractions properly because they felt so different from the first two.

And so we went from this...

to this...

And now we're all settling in to this...

Hello, my darling Ms A.

This is Ms A after she had gained back her lost weight and was back at her birth weight.  In other words, this is what I was carrying inside me!!!

PS.  And yes... our family does include Dear Husband... he's the one behind the camera :)

PPS.  Hey - can I post this as one of my Creative Commitments for 2012?  You know, one of my "4 of own creations"?

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Whirlwind Wait

Phew - it's been a whirlwind past couple of weeks.  While I should be resting and relaxing and nesting, it's actually been go-go-go!  And every night passes that I ask the little one to just wait one more day while I get this "last" thing organised.

Dear Husband had his wisdom teeth taken out.  I nearly cried when they wheeled him out of the hospital to the car (standard operating procedure).  He looked so.... operated on.  That was a couple of weeks recovery time.

Then we bought a new car (to fit the third car seat).

Then we sold our old car.

Then we bid on an apartment (and was successful!)

Then we organised financing and settlement.

As you can see, little bubs has been very patient.  She had dropped a couple of weeks ago, but then decided if she was going to wait then she would wait a little higher up probably where it is more comfortable (for both of us!).

In amongst all that, I've been trying to "nest".  But, I have to say that nesting and crafting really don't go hand-in-hand!  Especially when I've been using the bassinet as crafting storage for the past year.  Oh - where am I going to put all of the work-in-progress projects if not the bassinet?!?

Hmmm.... maybe I should try finishing them!

And so I present the first UFO now F!!! ("UnFinished Object now Finished" for those of you not up with the cra-lingo.)

It's the wristlet bag from You Sew Girl's book.

I'm working my way through the bags in the book.  The book is laid out so that each project builds on the techniques of the previous project.

And it's written in such an engaging way that it makes me want to sew!

Yep - sewing just to sew.

Seriously, I have no use for this bag!  I love the material - the outside is like a textured linen type thing.  And I love the style and shape - it just sits comfortably in your hand if you are holding it or dangles nicely from your wrist.  And the gorgeous button from Buttonmania...!

But I really don't need this bag... you want it?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Welcome Back!

Hey there!!  Are you still around?  I've been MIA lately (sorry!)... but now with lots of updates and ready to rock 'n' roll in the blogosphere.

Let's see... where to start?

So it's been a BUSY 4-5 months.  I started back at work in a new role; Dear Husband started a new role with a new company; Baby Mac started in daycare.  It would seem that Little Miss M was the only one cruisin'.

Add to this the effort of keeping house and home.... it's been exhausting.

Unfortunately, this has meant that all crafting projects had to be put on hold.  Save for one - this project was determined to meander along, demanding sometimes a lot and sometimes a little of me every day.

Yep - another little one on the way.  *sigh*  It seems like only yesteryear that Baby Mac blessed us with her arrival.  Actually it was only yesteryear!!

Uh-huh - after 6 home pregnancy tests over the space of 2 months when Baby Mac was only 8 months old, we finally accepted that we were pregnant again.  After years of trying for the first one and then the second one, this little third one decided to buck all odds.  I have a feeling that that will be the story of this bubba's life!

So... the pic above is our family unit, with the third one baking nicely along at 36 weeks.  Not long now.

The girls are growing up quickly (too quickly!) and are becoming friends as well as sisters.

I have finished working for now - as in paid employment :) - and that was demanding, fun and fulfilling while it lasted.  It was actually hard to leave this time round... hmmm, it usually is hard for me to leave work... but now that I've spent a few days at home by myself, I'm glad that I no longer have conflicting priorities and can concentrate on my family and myself for now.

There was one dear friend at work who was so supportive and encouraging while I got to grips with my new (albeit short-lived) role that I wanted to make something special for her as an expression of my thanks.

Thanks JR, for the laughs, the big ideas, the little gestures of caring, and for just always being there.  It's been a while since I had plugged in the sewing machine, so excuse the crazy wonky sewing!  But, in the wee hours of the morning, I made it for you... with love.  Thanks again, JR!!!!

So, we've got a lot to catch up on....  But for now - take care!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bean; Been; Bean... Bag!

You know what I think is a really cruel word... "LISP".  If you think about it from the point of view of someone that has it...

Have you ever thought about the complexity of the english language?  Hmmm...yes... try teaching your little one how to communicate in spoken english.  All I've got to say is... Thank goodness for sign language!

At the sewing machine...
Little Miss M : What are you making mama?
Mama : I'm making a bean bag for you.
Little Miss M : A bean bag?
Mama : Yeah - like the ones that you sit on in the library.
Little Miss M : Oh, ok.  It doesn't look like a bean bag.
Mama : Well, when I finish sewing it, I'm going to put in some bean bag filling.
Little Miss M : Bean bag filling?  What is bean bag filling?
Mama : The stuff that I put in the bean bag so that it becomes fluffy when you sit on it.
Little Miss M : Do you put beans in it?
Mama : Ummm... yes, I suppose you can call it that.
< A bit of silence; a bit of sewing >
Little Miss M : Mama?
Mama : Yes, baby...
Little Miss M : Mama, what does bean mean?
Mama : Huh?  It's the stuff we put in the bean bag.
Little Miss M : Yeah, but what does it mean?
Mama : "What does it mean?"  It doesn't mean anything.  It's just the name of the stuff that we put in the bean bag.
< Repeat the last two lines a few times, with (horrible) Mama getting a bit annoyed >
< And then some silence >
Little Miss M : Mama!!  I know what "bean" means!!
Mama (in distracted resignation) : And what's that, baby?
Little Miss M : It means that I've just done something!
< And now she's got my attention >
Mama : "I've just done something"?
Little Miss M (in her most adults-are-soooo-slow voice) : Yes mama.  Like "I've just been to the supermarket".  That's what "been" means.
< and she walks off rolling her eyes, and I'm sitting there, laughing aloud, but feeling like the biggest goose >

So here's my constant reminder never to take for granted how difficult it can be to learn a new language, especially the english one.  And a reminder of how clever these little ones really are.

Some nitty gritty...
- The bean bag consists of a removable outer layer for easier washing and an inner layer filled with the "beans'.
- The finished size is about 16" across and about 13" high.
- I used a 100liter bean bag filling of cheapie polystyrene.  The bean bag feels a bit full, but with the amount of jumping on it that has been happening, it will flatten out a bit so that Little Miss M and Baby Mac can "sink" into it, as it should be with bean bags.
- The pattern can be found here.  It's an easy one.
- I flat-felled all of the seams except for the opening of the outer layer and the last seam of the inner layer.
- I would consider using a zipper instead of velcro for the outer layer opening.

It's quite a satisfying project - simple project; beginner effort; big outcome and lots of fun for the kids.  The choice of materials and bean bag filling will determine how much money you end up spending.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mini Break

We took a mini vacation over the weekend - so last minute (planned on Friday afternoon) and so much fun.  Especially for Dear Husband as it was a trip down memory lane.

First priority stop - Freshwater Creek Cakes.  Aaah - the infamous "Passionfruit Sponge Cake" from years past.  I have to admit - this is a gooooood memory to have.  And now I understand my Dear Husband's obsession for it and how it is in a class of it's own.

This cake is light; it's airy; it has the right combination of sweet balanced by the creamy balanced by the most tender crumb.  It's not sugary; it's not buttery; it's not moist nor is it dry.  What it is - is perfect.  And divine.  And so, so, so delicious.

Surely it can be improved upon?  Yes - by taking a fork to it and devouring it on the pristine sands of a gorgeous beach.

Definitely one of the highlights of the weekend.

And the other highlights include...

A play on the beach even though it's too cold for a swim.

 A jump with Dad on a giant pillow.

A lighthouse.


Playgrounds with beautiful backgrounds.

And some fishing.

Oh - and some more cake!

It was a wonderful, last-minute family vacation.  When was the last time you just packed up and went?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Do you know the Muffin Man?

The Muffin Man?
Yes, the Muffin Man?  Do you know the Muffin Man that lives in my house?

Cheese and Poppy Seed Muffins
Yes - it's my Dear Husband.  Now, my Dear Husband is an accomplished cook in his own right.  Unfortunately, for some silly reason (that reason being me!), he is rarely in the kitchen.  My mind is always 10 days ahead with the meals that I'm going to cook.  I don't know why I don't "assign" any meals to my Dear Husband to cook for us.  But now that I've stated "aloud" this flaw in my personality, I think I'm going to start doing something about it.

Blueberry Muffins
Anyways - my Dear Husband does sometimes make it into the kitchen.  Lately, it's during those early morning wake up calls when he is kind enough to take the girls and give me a little bit of a sleep in.  And what does he do with the girls?  He bakes muffins for breakfast!!!  Isn't he a treasure?

Raspberry Muffins
And what's more - he makes really good muffins!

Doughnut-flavoured muffins complete with a runny jam filling
We were never really a muffin family, until I got a hold of this book - The Muffin Bible.

It was a promotional freebie.  It was sitting on our shelves until one morning I armed Little Miss M with mini post-it notes and told her and her dad to go through the book and mark out the ones they wanted to try.  I think the different flavourings and the simplicity of the recipes caught my husband's eye because, before I knew it, we had moved away from toast and cereal and the weekend pancakes and onto muffins.  And I love it!!

Cream Cheese and lemon muffins
If I had to choose my favourite - it would be a toss up between the Cream Cheese and Lemon Muffins and Raspberry Muffins.

Cream Cheese and Lemon Muffins - these are awesome and, if you reduce the sugar, they don't feel overly sweet for breakfast!
Adapted from the Muffin Bible

110g cream cheese, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups plain flour
grated rind of 1 lemon
1 egg
1/2 cup oil
1/2 milk
2/3 cup sugar (or less!)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Topping (optional but good if the lemon flavour is not really coming out)
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 190C.  Grease or line your muffin pan.
2.  Mix the cream cheese with 2 tablespoons of flour and the lemon zest.  Cut the cream cheese chunks to even smaller pieces depending on your preference.  They will retain their size throughout the baking process.
3.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until just combined.
4.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin pan.
5.  Bake at 190C for 20-25min.  They will be ready when the lightly spring back when touched.
6.  (Optional)  To make the topping, mix the lemon juice and sugar and sprinkle this mix over the warm muffins.

These are great muffins to freeze.  Just wrap them up tightly.  When I'm ready to eat them, I usually warm them in the microwave for about 30secs.

Raspberry Muffins - these are not like your typical muffin mix with the raspberries thrown in.  These have a wonderfully spiced flavour.  The sweetness of the sugar is easily countered by the tartness of the raspberries.  Fresh raspberries or frozen raspberries work well.
Adapted from the Muffin Bible

2 cups plain flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar (or less!)
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup oil
55-60g melted butter, cooled
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

1.  Preheat over to 200C.  Grease or line your muffin pan.
2.  Mix together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
3.  Whisk together the sugar and eggs until light.
4.  Add to the sugar and egg mixture the vanilla, oil and butter.  Whisk again.
5.  Make a large well in the centre of the dry ingredients.  Pour the egg-sugar mixture and combine the two quickly until a batter is formed.  It will be very thick - don't worry!
6.  Gently fold in the raspberries.
7.  Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tray, filling them about two-thirds full.
8.  Bake at 200C for 20-22 minutes.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

My Little Ray of Sunshine

The hardest part of sewing, for me, is choosing fabrics.  There is so much gorgeous fabric out there and finding the right combination is agonising.  AG-ON-IS-ING!!!!!

What colour palette do I like?  What prints will go with what prints?  Are they too matchy-matchy?  Do they blend too much?  Will the pattern show on a smaller item?  Will the person like it?  Does it suit them?  Is it elegant/retro/vintage/childish/adult enough?  AAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!

And the worst part - I don't normally subscribe to pink; I don't have many clothes that are pink or furnishings that are pink or stuff that is pink but I'm always drawn to the pink palette when it come to fabrics.  Sometimes I hate my taste.

And so, it is with great pride, that I present this skirt that I made - in Yellow and Orange!  No pink in sight. And my delightful Little Miss M has named it her Sunshine skirt.  How lovely is that!

The nitty-gritty details...
This skirt was made using Oliver + S Hopscotch skirt pattern.  I am still not very comfortable with making clothes and this pattern takes you on a very detailed journey from beginning to end.  So this was a very good pattern for me.

Having said that, not only is it very detailed but there are ALOT of steps.  Why?  I think it's because this pattern is all about the finishes - once complete, only the side seams have a visible sergered/zig-zagged edge.  All the other seams are enclosed.

In the back of my mind (and not because I have asked them), I think my sisters, highly accomplished seamstresses especially in the clothing department (my younger sis made my wedding dress; my older sis could whip up a suit from thin air!!!), would think this is a very fussy pattern for a child's play skirt.  I think.

Would I make it again?  Yes, definitely.  It is a great beginner pattern; the finishes are pretty good; and there are some good techniques to take away from this pattern.  Also, using this nifty tip from the ever-talented Nicole Mallalieu, I can make this skirt in various sizes.