Monday, 31 January 2011

Things I Currently Love

This summer I have had a lot of fun visiting op shops and antiques bazaars in my search for gorgeous vintage items.  I realised that quite a few of them fit well into the "shabby chic" category, although they are not exclusive to this style of decorating and creating!  Today's post is a collection of photos using the vintage items I currently love...sigh of pleasure.

black and white lace wedding cake
Loooove this "lace" cake from Real Simple
recyced sari silk scarf
 This funky scarf was made from recycled sari silk which had been turned into yarn.

vintage doily wedding dress eco
Pretty eco dress using vintage doilies.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Cute as a Cupcake

Before I launch into today's post, I want to wish all of my Aussie readers a very happy Australia Day!  I hope you are all enjoying your public holiday, and for those of you who have to work, that you can still have some fun today.
By now you should know that I am a hopeless op shop and antiques store tragic (he he) who just can't help but pop in and look around at these stores wherever I go. will probably not surprise you to find out that on our recent weekend away to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, I dragged my poor husband to several op shops and antiques stores and bazaars!

The dear man bore it with great patience, even having a poke around at the old books and furniture and buying some books too.  The cute crockery above are just some of the items I found on our travels (these were unearthed at the AMAZING "The Mill Markets") and consist of a pair of gilt-edged saucers (made specifically for Bevilles jewellers according to the back), sweet vintage Japanese-made egg cups and a pretty bone china plate.

While I absolutely love the design of these pieces of crockery, I am not really a collector (that would be pushing my husband's patience too far).   Instead, I transformed these orphan pieces of crockery into cute little cake stands which are large enough for a cupcake!  I am really tempted to keep them for myself, but I will most likely give them away as presents (with some home baked goodies on top).  I am also toying with the idea of selling my upcycled crockery creations, so I would really love your feedback!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

10 Years - Oh Wow!

Today's post is a little indulgent trip down "nostalgia lane" as my dear husband and I celebrate ten years of marriage.   : )   I look at these photos and think, "We look so young!", but that is probably because we were young back then, with Malcolm only just having finished university and finding his first full time job and me getting ready to enrol in a postdoctorate degree.
We got married on a stinking hot 36 degree (Celsius) day in an old heritage-protected church building which had no air conditioning at all.  (For those of you who are wondering, we chose to get married there because a) Malcolm attended the church which met there, b) it was a beautiful building and c) it was a nice central location for everyone.)  I think our guests had melted by the end of the ceremony and everyone made a rush for the drinks tables when afternoon tea was served!  I don't know how the boys survived in their three piece suits, but my bridesmaids and I were glad to be wearing summer dresses and tried hard not to sweat off our makeup.
Ten years, two mortgages and two cheeky monkeys later - I still love my "geeky white boy" like mad.  We've been through a lot together, and I know we will go through more in the future (especially as our celebrations this year are shadowed with worries about my dad's health), but I'm looking forward to more great years together.  Though it would be nice if I could look back at the photos and think, "Wow, I still look the same", he he!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Crafting with Kids - Yarn Covered Bangle Tutorial

At the start of this month I had grand plans of spending the summer holidays crafting with my kids, and blogging about it, as mentioned in this post.  While I have managed to complete several of my own sewing projects, I have only managed to do two craft projects (not including the standard painting and colouring in small children like to do) with my girls.  Oops!
So, today I thought I would share a tutorial for yarn covered bangles, which my girls had a lot of fun completing.  It is actually a project which they have been asking me to help them with for quite a few months now, but with our usual end of year chaos and with me being unable to find the key supplies required, the project was put off until "after Christmas".  While I have titled this post "crafting with kids", I am sure that there are many teens or adults who would happily have a yarn covered bangle in their accessories box!

yarn covered bangle upcycled repurposed

Large wooden curtain rings or wooden bangles (I found ours at a local op shop after several months of searching)
Yarn from your stash (it's up to you whether you want a bangle which is all the same colour or multi-coloured)
Water-based paint in a colour to match/complement your yarn
Craft glue (PVA works well)

curtain ring upcycled craft

1. Firstly, make sure that the curtain rings or bangles fit the intended wearer lest you end up with tears at the end of your project!  Actually, it is probably best to make sure of a good fit before you even purchase the curtain ring or bangle.  Next, paint your bangle in a colour which will match or complement the wool you are using so that small gaps are not so obvious.  If your curtain ring is varnished or has a pretty wood stain on it, you may want to skip the paint step.

2. Leave your bangle somewhere warm to dry.  Meanwhile, if your curtain ring or bangle is too narrow to squeeze your ball of yarn through the centre, cut the yarn into manageable lengths for wrapping.

3. Once your paint has dried, you can start wrapping!  Place a small stripe of glue onto one edge of your bangle and adhere the end of your yarn to this spot.  Holding onto the glued end, wrap your yarn around the ring, overlapping the glued end if you want to ensure a really good attachment.

4. Keep wrapping your yarn around the ring until you reach the other end of the yarn.  Place a little glue on the ring and firmly press the yarn end onto it.  If you are going for an "eclectic bohemian" look as my girls did, now is the perfect time to change yarn colours.  The yarn wrapping works better if you use the same type and ply of wool for the entire bangle, but this may not be an option if you are using leftovers from your stash (my mum generously donated her leftover stash to the girls for this project).

5. Continue wrapping and gluing loose ends until you have wrapped the entire curtain ring to your satisfaction.  Check all loose ends to make sure that they are securely adhered to the bangle and then leave the bangle to dry in a warm and sunny spot.

Sorry about the blurriness, I had to take this quickly before the girls grabbed their bangles back!

And there you have it - you will now have a funky and rustic accessory with which you can jazz up a casual outfit or add to your eco-chic look!  If you or your children try out this project, please feel free to leave a link to your completed bangle for everyone else to see.     :)

Monday, 17 January 2011

The Stylish Blogger Award

Many thanks to Bri of Petaliferous and Kim of KJP Designs who both nominated me for a Stylish Blogger Award.  It thrills me to know that there are people who regularly read my blog posts and like them enough to link to my blog on their own blogs!

I have received a few similar blog awards in the past, so rather than link to a stack of blogs on here, I'll re-direct you to my previous posts here and here and encourage you to go and visit Bri and Kim's blogs as well as the other blogs mentioned in those posts.  Thanks again Kim and Bri!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Apricot Jam - Mmmm Mmmm

My parents have a mid-sized apricot tree in their backyard which has been fruiting like mad this summer, probably thanks to all the rain Melbourne has been getting in the last few months.  The fruit are a nice size and super sweet to eat, but my dad has been finding that the wildlife are also very appreciative of his garden produce (the birds were apparently merrily pecking away at the apricots while my poor dad was trying to harvest and salvage his precious fruit).

My half eaten breakfast - apricot jam and cream cheese on a poppyseed bagel!

Since the tree bears more fruit than my parents can eat on their own, they have been giving away apricots to me and to various church friends who do not have their own trees.  We have all been enjoying fresh apricots for breakfast, lunch and dinner but the warm and humid weather we are currently experiencing has meant that the fruit are ripening too fast for us to keep up.  So, in order to keep enjoying these home grown apricots, I decided to try making apricot jam with those fruit which had gotten bruised or were overripe.  The recipe I used was shared with me by Apparently Jessy, who found the simple microwave recipe on
Please follow the All Free Crafts link to find their instructions for the jam, especially as they give some great suggestions for making jam with other fruit too.  But I also wanted to share my minor modifications of the recipe with you, because you should all know by now that I just can't leave a recipe alone, ha ha!

450g (minus the stones) diced or mashed apricots
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 Tb lemon or lime juice

Put the chopped fruit into an 8 cup capacity microwaveable bowl or measuring jug.
Mix in the sugar and lemon juice and leave to sit for 30 minutes.
Microwave the fruit mixture on high for 10-14 minutes, stirring every 3-4 minutes.
If you do not have a container large enough for the ingredients, you can halve the recipe and use a smaller bowl for the cooking.
Pour or spoon your jam into sterilised jars, seal and leave to cool.  I would recommend keeping your jam in the refrigerator once it has cooled sufficiently.
Now all you have to do is enjoy your home made jam!!!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The Queensland Flood - Help Amidst the Sorrow

Most, if not all, of you will have heard by now about the devastating floods which have hit a large part of Queensland.  Many have lost homes and belongings as hundreds of people evacuate to higher ground, even those living in the heart of the state's capital.  Some have lost their lives while others are still missing.  Flood levels have reached proportions many have not seen in their lifetime and reports say that there is worse to come over the next day or so.

I am sure that the people of Queensland would appreciate your prayers for them during this disastrous time.  And there are also many other ways in which groups and individuals can help those who have lost so much during this time.  One way to help is by donating to the Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal.  The Queensland government will use funds from the appeal to help those who have been affected by the floods.  Donations are tax deductible for Australian residents.

Those living overseas who want to help but feel uncertain of making donations in a foreign currency can help by making purchases from fundraising auctions or sales.  Many artists and creative types have started up fundraising auctions of handmade goods to raise money for the Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal and other charity organisations.  One such group is the Etsian Australian Flood Appeal, which is selling handmade items on Etsy.  Shipping is free worldwide and all proceeds (minus Etsy and Paypal fees) will go to the Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal.  There are lots of other groups running fundraising auctions and sales too, so there is sure to be a way for many people to help out.  Please note, though, that the government is warning people to be sure to check the legitimacy of organisations if you do decide to donate financially or through offering an item for an auction/sale.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Sewing Projects Continued

You may have noticed that I have been a little quiet in blogland since my last post and that is because I have been madly sewing away at my various projects!  I have managed to finish three projects (including one I didn't mention because it had not originally been on my list of things I was planning to make, LOL) and will soon start thinking about starting another one.

library bag school

The first project to be completed was Miss 5's library bag for school.  This was a relatively straightforward project until I realised, too late, that the sturdy upholstery fabric I had let Miss 5 choose (I think it is cotton duck) was a bit thick for a library bag.  This has resulted in a drawstring bag that doesn't pull fully closed due to the thick-ish fabric refusing to bunch up any closer - oops.  I did manage to line the bag with a cute mauve spotty fabric, so at least the inside of the bag looks good too!  My "simple" project also hit a snag when I went to put in the drawstring cord.  Miss 5 had requested that her library bag have a double cord, but with the thickness of the fabric and the size of the bag I had made, a double drawstring ended up being too short.  This meant another trip to the fabric store for more cord, though this time Miss 5 agreed to choose a cord which better matched her fabric.  She ended up choosing a sparkly silver cord, which looks great but was a pain to work with since it was essentially a plain white cord with metallic silver strands wrapped around it which kept unravelling as I was working with it...groan.

fabric bunting pink green vintage lace bias binding flower

My second sewing project for the summer was a cute pink and green bunting made for my friends' daughter, whose third birthday we will be celebrating this weekend.  This is the first time I have ever sewn bunting, so I was pleasantly surprised at how quick it was to put together.  The only real issues I had with this project were the inordinate number of pins I seemed to use to keep everything together and all the ironing required to give my bunting a crisp, neat look, he he!  I used bias binding for the top of the bunting, which probably added to my ironing, so maybe next time I will use a wide grosgrain ribbon or something similar.  I think next time I will also make the triangle flags a little larger.  These ones were 13cm wide by 15cm high and although cute, I think they are a little on the small side for my liking.  The best part about this project was finding fabrics which would work well together.  I am not very skilled at matching fabrics, but I had fun and I think the mix of new fabric, lace and fabric from vintage pillowcases works well.

fabric cuff lace calico vintage crochet cabochon sakura flower cherry blossom pink brass filigree
fabric cuff sewn sewing hemtape lace vintage cabochon glass rhinestone blue aqua brass filigree
fabric cuff calico vintage cameo brass setting pink organza lace acrylic

Finally, I have been feverishly working on my new range of fabric cuffs for my Etsy and Madeit stores!  Allow me to introduce you to the Fiore, Amphitrite and Sweet Innocence cuffs (top to bottom) - all made using calico, lace,  vintage buttons, cabochons and brass findings.  Each cuff has been backed with a plain cotton fabric re-purposed from an old pillowcase.  I had A LOT of fun designing these three pretties and can't wait to work on some more designs!  The Fiore cuff has the most gorgeous vintage crocheted lace adorned with a brass filigree, tiny bee charm and a vintage-style sakura cabochon.  The Amphitrite cuff combines vintage lace, hem tape, a floral filigree and a gorgeous vintage glass cabochon and rhinestones.  Lastly, the Sweet Innocence cuff combines organza-style ribbon, vintage lace and a vintage cabochon set into a cameo setting.  Each of these cuffs will be available in my stores once I decide on how I'll label them with my store name.
So that is three sewing projects done and dusted!  I am still planning on making a kisslock frame purse, but I think I need a little rest from all the sewing, ha ha.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Summer Sewing Projects

While some of you might be shivering away through a cold northern hemisphere winter, I am experiencing a mixture of all sorts of weather in the southern hemisphere summer, aka "the summer holidays".  My girls have about a month until they start their new school year, so I have been planning craft projects to keep both them and myself occupied during what I am hoping will be halcyon days of leisure.  I plan to blog more about the kids' craft projects over the coming weeks, but today I want to give you a little teaser into my own planned projects.

The first of my projects will be to sew Miss 5 a library bag for school.  I suppose I could have bought one for her, but I am supposed to be making the most of my sewing machine and this way she can have a bag in any colour way she desires.  Although, as you can see above, allowing Miss 5 to choose the supplies she wanted (after much argument and discussion in Spotlight) is going to result in an interesting mix of slightly mis-matched fabrics and cord, ha ha.

My next project is to be brave and tackle a new craft technique for me, sewing a kisslock frame purse.  I am hoping to make myself (and maybe some fortunate friends or family members) a little clutch purse using this tutorial here.  I mentioned being brave because, to be honest, while I loooove kisslock frames, the thought of getting my sewn purse into the frame and securely and evenly attached is scaring me no end!  There is also the fact that this tutorial doesn't come with a pattern but shows one (very ably I might add) how to draw up one's own pattern - eep.

And finally, I managed to find some gorgeous vintage lace and vintage crocheted lace ribbons in an op shop and thought I would try designing some "mixed media collage" fabric cuffs for my online stores (and maybe for a giveaway later in the year).  My idea is to combine fabric, lace, ribbon, filigrees and vintage buttons and cabochons to create feminine, vintage-style cuffs one could wear for special occasions or to pretty up an outfit.
I have no idea if I will be able to complete all of these projects in between entertaining kids and organising summer outings (and I just found two more projects I want to try while writing this post, LOL).  But, I thought it was a good idea to at least set myself a goal and have a plan for my creating or else I might find that I don't get anything done over my summer holidays!
So tell me, do you have any craft projects planned for this summer (or your summer to come)?  Or do you have any tips to share which might help me with my above projects?  Drop me a line and let me know!  Also, I like to try and reply to all of my lovely commenters, but I can't do this if your email profile has been set to "private" on blogger.    :)