Friday, 28 May 2010

Feature Friday - Julie's Silk 'N Style Shop

Today's feature Friday artist is the colourful Julie of Julie's Silk 'n Style Shop.  She creates a beautiful range of hand painted silk ties, scarves and other accessories.  Her work is so bright and cheery and comes in a diverse range of styles.  Let's find out more about the woman behind the creations!

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I live in Derby (Midlands UK).  I am married to Pete and have four grown up children and a 17 year old foster son.  I don't have a day job, but I wouldn't exactly call myself a full time artist either.  A lot of my time is devoted to my work.  However, Rachel, my 23 year old daughter, is still at home and has lots of cancer-related health issues and Nic, my foster son, is still at home too, so I guess I would call myself part artist, part homemaker.   I also spend time helping out with church activities - music, young people, etc.  I like countryside walks with Pete, reading, cooking and, of course, anything crafty!

Describe yourself in five words.
Christian, wife, mother, artist, happy!

When and how did you first start crafting/creating?
For as long as I can remember!  My mum always encouraged my sister and me to be creative.  I started silk painting when Rachel became ill as a sort of therapeutic thing to do together.

 What do you create and what are your favourite materials with which to work?
I enjoy making jewellery and creating silk paintings.  I love really bright colours and bold designs.

When and how did you start selling online?
I started selling on eBay towards the end of 2005.  I made a steam train tie for my husband (he's an enthusiast!) and people said I should try selling one like it.  The business has grown steadily since then.  A friend recently introduced me to Etsy and I stocked my shop for the first time at the beginning of the year.

Describe your store in five words.
Bold bright pure silk accessories.

Where can we find you online?

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Swarovski Sneak Peek

As many of you will know, I have a mild obsession with Swarovski crystals and with filigree stampings and connectors.  So, I thought that it was about time I combine these two obsessions to create a new range of jewellery and accessories for my store.

Swarovski and filigree rings at Two Cheeky Monkeys on Etsy

I have already listed the Nikita (purple), Giordana (blue) and Athena (pink) rings in my Etsy store, but I am hoping to create more of these sparkly rings in a range of colours once I source some more Swarovski flowers in new colours.  In the mean time, I have had fun creating a new range of hair accessories using these gorgeous Swarovksi elements.

Swarovski and filigree hair forks for bridal

Allow me to unveil the Nikita, Athena and Giordana hair forks!  While the filigrees I have used for the hair forks are different from those used in the rings, I have decided to keep the same name for the corresponding Swarovski element colour.  To be honest, I am fairly sure that I could not create a beautiful hairdo using these hair forks, but I am sure that there are many women out there who are not as stylistically-challenged (if that's a term) as me!

Swarovski and filigree hair forks for weddings

So what do you think?  Would you, or someone you know, be able to use these sparkly hair forks to decorate your hair?  I think they would be great accessories for brides or bridesmaids, but I am undecided about whether I should sell these hair forks as singles or as pairs.  I would love to hear your feedback and comments!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Wishlist Wednesday - Kitchen Appliances

I am currently shopping around for a new oven and cooktop to replace my current oven/cooktop which is on its last legs, so today's wishlist Wednesday highlights some kitchen appliances with which I am in love.

The Andi 70cm 8 function oven

 The Blanco 75cm stainless steel oven

The Andi 70cm gas cooktop

The AEG-Electrolux 75cm gas cooktop

Monday, 24 May 2010

Yo-Yo Fun

To some of you, I may seem a little slow on the uptake.  But after seeing lots of cute and beautiful creations made with fabric yo-yo's (aka Suffolk puffs), I have finally tried my hand at creating these sweet adornments.  I had a few requests to show off my new found skill, so here is a little post about what I've done so far.
I'm not going to share a tutorial for making the yo-yo's since I followed this fantastic tutorial I found on the amazing Zakka Life blog.  Instead, I have a fairly quick hair clip project using yo-yo's.  Now, I say fairly quick but, if like me, you have two little girls who want full involvement in designing said yo-yo's and hair clips, then this project might take a little longer while everyone debates over which fabrics and notions should be used!

yo-yo suffolk puff hair clips

All you need for these simple hair accessories are large-ish fabric scraps for your yo-yo's, some buttons, and some hair clips (I used snap clips because my girls love them).
I might add that I found it easier to gather and arrange my yo-yo's to the desired ruffled/puffy look when I used more lightweight fabrics.  The middle yo-yo turned out the best for me and is cotton (I think).  The right yo-yo was made from synthetic fabric and was a little too floppy to work with, while the green yo-yo was made from rather thick quilting fabric and I found it a bit thick and stiff for getting into a nice round shape.  I was also too lazy to cut out a circle template for my yo-yo's and merely used a roll of packing tape as a template.

Once you have made your lovely yo-yo's following Jessica's tutorial, you should have a nice little pile of yo-yo's ready for your creative projects.  Once I made this trio and my girls had stopped arguing over which buttons to use, I sewed one button over the middle of each yo-yo to cover up the hole and my ungainly stitching.  (And I can't resist using buttons in my craft projects either, LOL).

When I sewed the buttons onto the yo-yo's, I tried to catch the ruffles as well to ensure that everything was secure and sturdy enough to withstand the rigours of being worn by two small girls.

The next step is to attach your decorated yo-yo's to your hair clips.  I love these snap clips with the little hole at the end.  They're great for gluing as the glue has something extra to "grip" and they're great for sewing too.  I chose to sew my yo-yo's onto the snap clips since I wasn't sure if my usual glues were suitable for fabric.  I suppose I could have tried using my hot glue gun, but my needle and thread were already raring to go (so to speak) and I don't like using my hot glue gun around the kids.
After you have sewn your yo-yo securely onto the hair clip, all you have to do is sit back, and admire your handiwork and bask in the appreciation you will receive from the recipients of these clips!

Miss almost 3 modelling a yo-yo snap clip.

My girls have requested that I also make them some elastic headbands adorned with yo-yo's, so I guess that will be my next yo-yo project (as well as some snap clips for my friend who admired them so much I promised to make some for her two year old).  I am thinking that for headbands I will either make the yo-yo's in a larger size or group multiple small yo-yo's in a row.
I had a brief thought that the yo-yo's would be great for stringing into a garland, but the thought of making enough yo-yo's for two garlands quite frankly scares me!  Of course, I could just go to Spotlight or Lincraft and buy a yo-yo making tool such as those made by Clover.  That would probably make my life a lot easier, and they have tools to make yo-yo's in an assortment of fun shapes too!
So have I inspired you to try yo-yo making too?  Or have you been making these sweet decorations for years now?  Feel free to share with me your yo-yo projects or ideas.

Friday, 21 May 2010

And the Winner of the Sew Mama Sew May Giveaway for 2010 is...

Well, here's the moment you have all been waiting for!  My lovely random number generator chose:

Comment number 226 was Melissa who said:
"Love the blue ring! I'd add it to a care package that I'm making for my cousin, who's having a rough go at it lately."

Congratulations Melissa!  I wil email you for your details.  And thanks so much to all of you who entered my giveaway.  I look forward to seeing you at my blog again in the near future.
For those of you who missed out, don't despair - I am offering 10% off storewide (excluding shipping) from now until midnight 23rd of May (Melbourne time) to celebrate my birthday.  Just put "bday10" in the notes to seller and I will refund you the difference via Paypal.

Feature Friday - Challen Charms

The featured artist for this week is the lovely Rachael of Challen CharmsRachael is a fellow Australian and jeweller.  She creates the cutest jewellery as we shall soon find out.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Rachael and I am a born and bred Brisbanite, who decided to marry a man born in Canberra, of all places. My husband and I just celebrated our first wedding anniversary and bought our first home at the beginning of the year. We are already knee deep into renovations (I married an architect!), which doesn’t help my time organisational skills when it comes to crafting.

I am part of Gen Y (no judgement please) and work as a full-time marketing coordinator, which leaves nights and weekends free to create, when I’m not already roped into doing something around the house or with family and friends. When I do have time to myself, I make the most of it and create items for my store and gifts for loved ones. I have my own crafting workshop at home and am constantly interested in using new materials and equipment to make unique, one of a kind items. My husband knows this all too well and bought me a soldering iron for Christmas.

Describe yourself in 5 words.
Organised, Caring, Crafty, Outgoing, Friendly

When and how did you first start crafting/creating?
I first started crafting as a young child, making things such as paddle pop jewellery boxes and laminated placemats (from my own drawings) for family members. It then developed over the years into cross-stitching, latch hook, long stitching and paper crafts before discovering the art of creating my own jewellery.

What do you create and what are your favourite materials with which to work?
I primarily create jewellery that is simple and elegant, allowing for everyday wear, whether that involves dressing up for a special occasion or simply going out to the movies with friends. My stores offer jewellery items that include rings, bracelets, earrings and necklaces but I am always happy to custom make items to suit the customer e.g. using clip ons instead of earwires. I am learning to sew at the moment too and hope to incorporate fabric products into my online stores soon. My favourite materials to work with include mother of pearl beads, lampwork beads, silver girlie charms, Michael Miller fabric and other retro fabrics from Funky Fabrix in Brisbane.

When and how did you start selling online?
I only started selling my creations online in June last year, via Etsy. A friend told me about the crafting website and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to talk with other crafters and sell my items worldwide. I have since opened an Australian online store via Made It to target Australian buyers and discovered the wonderful DUST (Down Under Street Team) on Etsy. I have found the online jewellery market very competitive and am working hard to offer unique items to potential customers.

Describe your store in 5 words
Simple, Elegant, Cute, Charming, Fun

Where can we find you online?
As part of Gen Y, I am a bit of a social networking nut and as such ChallenCharms can be found at the following locations and many more…
Made It:

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Comfort Food of the East - Beef Pho

The arrival of winter-like weather to Melbourne and the rather stressful week we've had this week (long story short, little miss almost 3 had a severe asthma attack which saw us in the emergency department of our local hospital; she is much better now thankfully) has gotten me thinking about the cold weather and comfort foods my family and I like to eat.  So, today I thought I would share with you a quick and easy recipe for one of our favourites, Vietnamese Beef Pho.
Now, I must add the disclaimer that I am NOT Vietnamese, so the authenticity of my version of this soup noodle dish is probably a little suspect.  But I do promise you that it is very delicious and a great way to warm up on days that make you think you are living in Antarctica (or the Arctic if you're in the Northern hemisphere).

1kg of stewing beef such as gravy beef or chuck steak, trimmed and diced into 2cm cubes
1-2 stalks of lemongrass, bruised
4 star anise pods
3cm knob of ginger, sliced
12 leaves of wombok/Chinese cabbage
3-4 bunches of baby bok choy
100g bean sprouts (optional)
1 litre of home made beef or chicken stock or 1 cup of store bought beef stock
Fresh flat rice noodles for soup
Fresh coriander
1-2 small red chillies
2 limes
Fish sauce

1. Combine your stock, lemongrass, star anise and ginger in a large soup pot and heat till simmering gently.  If you are using store bought stock, add enough water to make up to a litre.
2. When the stock is nicely simmering, add the diced beef and cover with the lid.  Top up with boiling water if the meat isn't fully covered by the liquid.  Leave to simmer for 1.5-2 hours.
3. Meanwhile, chop up the Asian greens.  These cook pretty quickly, so I usually add them after 1-2 hours and simmer for another 10-20 minutes, until they are tender.  If you are using the bean sprouts, I recommend tailing them for a more aesthetically pleasing dish.  You might also want to top up the soup with more liquid (boiling water) if it looks a little low and you are wanting more of a "soupy" feel.
4. Finely chop the coriander and the chillies and put them in separate dishes.
5. Put the rice noodles in a metal dish and cover with boiling water for about 5 minutes.  Drain the noodles and then serve up in large soup bowls with the soup.
6. Serve the noodle soup with the condiments in the middle of the table for people to add to taste.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Sew Mama Sew May Giveaway Day - 2010

Today's post has had me very excited for some time.  My birthday is on the 23rd of May and I had been thinking about running a birthday giveaway when I found out that the Sew Mama Sew May giveaway day was happening again!  I have enjoyed discovering new crafty blogs through past Sew Mama Sew Giveaway days, so now that I'm a blogger too, I have decided to take part!  I can't think of a better "bloggy" way to celebrate my birthday.

vintage cabochon ring red navy dome vintage style

Since my crafty endeavours primarily focus on jewellery making, I have decided to give away the winner's choice of EITHER the Vintage Red Ring OR the Domestika Blue Ring, neither of which are available in my store yet.  Both rings are made from vintage West German domed cabochons and contemporary adjustable ring bases.  In order to better fit in with the fact that it's a Sew Mama Sew giveaway, I have also sewn a small fabric pouch for the ring.

So, what do you have to do to enter this giveaway?
Firstly: Tell me which ring you would choose if you were the winner, and who it would go to (it's okay to keep it for yourself, he he).

For extra entries (feel free to do all, some or none of these):
1. Visit my store and tell me which piece is your favourite, and why.
2. Follow my blog publicly.  If you are already a follower, just leave a comment telling me you are.
3. Follow me on Twitter and leave me your username. Or remind me that you are already a follower.
4. Tell me what kind of tutorials you would like to see on my blog.

PLEASE put each entry as a SEPARATE comment and leave me your email address so that I can contact you if you are the winner.
This giveaway is open worldwide and will run from today, May 17, until 3pm May 21 Australian time (AEST).

The winner will be chosen using and has 48 hours to respond to my email before I pick another winner.

EDIT: This giveaway is now closed.  Thanks to everyone for entering my giveaway!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Feature Friday - billy mac clothing

This week's feature Friday artist is Christine of billy mac clothing.  As you will see, she makes cute tees for children, some of which this mum wouldn't mind having for herself!

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I live in Sydney with my husband and 2 daughters who are 3 and 18 months old.  I worked in advertising for a very long time but haven’t had a day job since I had my girls. My full time job is looking after them, but I own a graphic design and advertising business which I run from home.  Late last year I started billy mac clothing, so I’m very busy and I certainly work longer hours now than I ever had in the past!

Describe yourself in 5 words. 
Creative, stubborn, ambitious, honest, cuddly

When and how did you first start crafting/creating?
I’ve always been artistic. I was always drawing, painting or dancing as a child ,but when I reached high school I knew that this was it, Art was my ‘thing’. I went to UNSW, College of Fine Arts for 4 years and when I graduated moved around in a few different jobs within magazines and retail advertising where I was amongst very creative people, but I wasn’t being creative myself.  In the back of my mind I knew that I was still an artist but I had pushed aside the ‘making’. After having my 1st child I started my own graphic design business which meant that I took the lid off my artistic self again.  And after having my 2nd child I started billy mac clothing.  It has been so fantastic to use my creative skills again – with billy mac clothing I am creating my own work and not channeling my artistic side through my clients' work.  It’s an absolute joy and my kids have great t-shirts to wear.

What do you create and what are your favourite materials with which to work?
I print kids t-shirts for the 0-8 bracket. I found after having my girls that there were fantastic garments for babies, but then for around the 2 years up age group the reasonably priced garments were either printed with Disney or Bratz Dolls licenced images or they were attempting to make girls, in particular, dress much older than they were. I needed to find t-shirts for my toddler to wear to Pre-school one day a week that I wasn’t too precious about if they got paint on them, had her shoulders covered in case of sunburn when she was playing outside, but also made her look like ‘the coolest kid in town’!  I couldn’t find anything within my price range so decided to focus on making my own. I can also customise any t-shirt with a name or an image and I’ve just put together a fundraising program for preschools, playgroups and sporting clubs where 20% of each t-shirt sold to their members or students is donated directly back to the club or group to boost their fundraising.

All my designs are done on a Mac using Adobe Illustrator; the design part is my favourite part of the process.  They are then printed via a couple of different methods, depending on the design, and heat pressed onto the garment. Each new design can take me a day, a week or 10 minutes to get it exactly how I want it – I never know until I start to work how easy or difficult it may be, but I’m a big believer in not looking at any design for a few days and then coming back to it with fresh eyes to get some perspective.  All of my t-shirts are 100% cotton and are printed with sturdy vinyl or digital prints. And then I get to see them!  I like to see ‘stuff’, it somehow makes what you think about and what I play around with on the computer more real to see that final printed product.  I’m experimenting with a few different print methods and weighing up the options between quality but still trying to keep costs reasonable.

When and how did you start selling online?
I have been making t-shirts for friends and family for about 3 years but it wasn’t until late last year that I decided to take it seriously, register the billy mac clothing business name (Billy Mac was my childhood nickname!) and start producing and trying to sell my work.  It’s been very quiet for me online but I have had an enormous amount of attention and positive feedback which makes everything worthwhile and I’m considering selling at markets.

Describe your store in 5 words 

Cool, retro, quirky, bold, fun

Where can we find you online?

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Wonderful Wednesday Win!

I just couldn't resist the alliteration in today's title, although the win in question actually occurred last Wednesday.  Each Wednesday, Christie of Christie Cottage hosts a fun giveaway on her blog.  And, as the title suggests, I was the excited winner of the giveaway last week!

So what did I win?  The AMAZING Rose Pink n Blue Classic Loli Innocent Collage Necklace from Kippys So Mature. This beautiful Etsy store is run by the very lovely Jennifer (or Kippy as she is sometimes called) who is a fellow team member of CAST.  Her work is so pretty and so detailed, check out her store some time!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

My Northern Territory Holiday - Miscellaneous Photos

Today's post is the last in my series of posts about my recent Northern Territory adventure.  I was hoping to be able to blog about the amazing flora and fauna found in the Northern Territory but I found that most of my pictures weren't that good (and we didn't see huge numbers of animals due to the fact that many of them are nocturnal and we did our sightseeing during the day).
So, instead of my planned flora and fauna post, I thought I would just include a few photos from our holiday which I love.  I can't believe it's been a month since we first set off on our holiday, there are definitely quite a few times when I wish we were still there!

Malcolm getting up close and personal with "Honey" the beautiful Olive python at the Alice Springs Reptile Centre.

Sculpture of a giant caterpillar representing Yeperenye, a dream time character in Aboriginal creation stories, at the Araluen Cultural Precinct.

Cattle class on a train which was used on the original Ghan railway line.  Yes, people used to travel like this for weeks (and sometimes months) with no shelter or seats.  The museum curator told us that travellers on "cattle class" would bring their own pallets and blankets to keep warm at night - yikes.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Feature Friday - DELicious Designz/Get SPOONed

My featured artist for the week is the lovely and talented Del of DELicious Designz and Get SPOONed.  Del makes amazing resin and spoon jewellery and my sister and I are proud owners of some of Del's funky resin bangles.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am Adelle and I live in Albany, Western Australia, with my 2 girls and hubby, dog, rabbit, guinea pig, budgie,  hermit crabs....and now it seems cat and chicken as well (these are not ours but have dropped by our place recently).  I am a stay-at-home-mum (although I don't seem to stay at home that much) and I am a full-time crafter.  I frequent the markets where you can find me selling my creations and I also sell online.
My creative direction has changed due to an allergy I have been getting from the resin I work with.  So in the best interests of my health, I have stopped creating bangles and rings and have been focussing more on my spoon jewellery.  I have now opened up my second etsy store GetSPOONed .

Describe yourself in 5 words.
I am really quite awesome!!!!  (Well someone has to think so, might as well be me).  Edit: He he he, love your confidence Del!

When and how did you first start crafting/creating?
I have always been a crafty kind of girl.  My Mum and Gran did markets when I was growing up, selling knitted jumpers, beanies, and knitted barbie clothes!!!  My girls are now using some of those outfits that I handed on to them for their dolls.

I learnt to knit and crochet at a young age and always liked to try new crafts.  I didn't do much for a few years but then, after having children and feeling a need to do something more than just be Mum, I got into beading.  I made lots of earrings and necklaces, more than one girl needed, but thought that if I wanted to sell my jewellery it had to be really different to get noticed.  So I began experimenting, I discovered resin and the rest is history.

What do you create and what are your favourite materials with which to work?
Favourite materials!!!  I love using vintage components, cutlery, resin.

When and how did you start selling online?
I was given the courage to take my spoon pendants to market by my good friend Samara (Maddabling).  We shared a table and it was lots of fun.  But afterwards I had lots of stock left and Samara suggested opening an etsy store.  So really, I owe it all to her, otherwise I probably would not have had the courage to take my creations to the world.

Describe your store in 5 words.
Fun, Unique, Bold, Quirky, Me

Where can we find you online?

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Orange and Berry Self-Saucing Pudding Recipe

I have been wanting to share some tutorials with my readers for some time now, but haven't had any good ideas about projects people would like.  So, I thought today I would share with you a simple and delicious recipe instead!  It's not technically a tutorial, but as you will see, I just couldn't help myself and had to tinker a little with the recipe.

My family are big fans of self-saucing puddings (especially my dear husband), so when I found this recipe in the MX paper a few years ago, I kept it in my folder of recipes to try out.  It is a VERY simple recipe and is great for those with egg allergies since it doesn't contain any eggs at all.

Orange and Berry Self-Saucing Pudding
20g flaked almonds
30g butter or margerine
110g (3/4 cup) self-raising flour
80ml (1/3 cup) milk
150g (2/3 cup) firmly packed brown sugar
Finely grated rind of one orange
110g frozen raspberries
60ml (1/4 cup) orange juice
180ml (3/4 cup) boiling water

1. Preheat your oven to 180C/356F.  Place the butter or margerine in a 1.5 litre oven- and microwave-proof dish and microwave briefly to melt the butter.
2. Add flour, milk and half the sugar to the melted butter and whisk until smooth.  Stir in rind and berries.
3. Sprinkle remaining sugar over berry mixture.  Carefully pou over combined juice and boiling water.
4. Bake uncovered for 45-60 minutes or until golden and cooked (this will depend on your oven).
5. Meanwhile, toast almond flakes till lightly browned, then sprinkle over the pudding just before serving.
6. Serve pudding with vanilla ice cream!

As I said earlier, I have tinkered with this recipe a little, so here are my variations (they really are quite minor).
1. Omit the flaked almonds if you cannot eat nuts (or simply cannot be bothered to toast the almonds).
2. The original recipe uses raspberries only.  I find that raspberries can be a little tart for my kids, so I like to use blueberries or a mix of frozen berries.
3. I like to juice the zested orange and use all of the juice instead of just 60ml.  Should you choose to do this, just reduce the boiling water by the same amount you increased the orange juice.

There you are, a very simple dessert you can whip up even with littlies "helping" you!  Enjoy!