Friday, 30 April 2010

Feature Friday - Lizzies Lovelies

Our featured artist for today is Lizzie who runs the absolutely cute Lizzies Lovelies.  Lizzie is a fellow CAST member and makes adorable bows in a range of styles to suit any little girl!

Tell us about yourself.
I live outside of Dayton, Ohio in a small town. It is the town that I lived in from Kindergarten till sixth grade so it was kind of like moving home when my husband and I moved here. I am a full time Mommy to a two-year-old little boy. I started making hairbows for my first niece and my god-daughter. I also do other crafts such as cross stitch and sewing....I hope to incorporate some of these items into my store at some point.

Describe yourself in 5 words.
Christian, teacher, mommy, wife, friend.

When and how did you first start crafting/creating?
My mum taught me to do counted cross stitch as a very young child.

What do you create and what are your favourite materials with which to work?
I work mostly with ribbon for my bows.  I just like to combine different colours and add special touches to each bow.  I also get ideas from friends and customers.  My plastic blocks started because my husband's aunt had made them for them as kids and my nephew wanted one...this Christmas maybe I will make one for myself!  I also did the name blocks and alphabet blocks because of my niece, nephew and god-daughter.

When and how did you start selling online?
My sister-in-law and friends encouraged me to start selling my bows online.

Describe your store in 5 words.
Colourful, creative...I am sorry, I can't think of any others at this time.  (Deb: I would say cute, adorable, pretty and decorative). 

Where can we find you online? 

My Northern Territory Holiday - Souvenirs

The penultimate post about my Northern Territory holiday is a relatively short one (yes, can you believe it, a short post from me!) highlighting some of the amazing artists who created some of the lovely souvenirs we brought home with us.

 "On Walkabout (Blue)" fabric by Karen Taylor

When I asked Malcolm what he was interested in bringing home as a reminder of our trip, he replied that he was interested in the many paintings by Aboriginal artists he had seen in the local galleries and stores.  Since these were out of our budget range,  I came up with a solution which made him happy and which also gave me an excuse to add to my fabric stash (he he).  I had noticed the tantalising Australian Aboriginal Fabrics store on our second day in Alice Springs and had been dying to pop in for a browse.  When I did, I was blown away by the beautiful fabric available!  I had to choose the blue "On Walkabout fabric" since blue is Malcolm's favourite colour and dot paintings are the traditional form of painting created by the local Arrernte people.  For those of you who can't visit Alice Springs, you will be glad to know that Australian Aboriginal Fabrics ship worldwide (was it naughty of me to tell you that?)

Beautifully coloured earrings created by Julie Millerick of Desert Silk

Another place full of amazing art by local artists was the small studio and gallery, Central Craft.  This little gem is a part of the Araluen Cultural Precinct and was full of a variety of handcrafts including pottery, felted and woven fabric art, jewellery and paintings.  My parents even found a delicious-looking range of gourmet jams and marmalades!  We had so much fun looking through all the beautiful handiwork and we were a little disappointed that none of the artists were working in the studio on the day we visited.

Bookmarks of paintings created by local artists

This last picture doesn't really constitute a "souvenir" we brought home with us, but it did give us some giggles after the initial tears.  As I mentioned in a previous holiday post, we found many of the walks to be rather arduous with two small children.  As a consequence, by the last day of our trip, each of us sported at least one graze or bruise on our knees (except for my parents who, being more "mature" and sensible, picked their way carefully through each walk and didn't fall once).  It hurt quite a bit at the time, but it was pretty funny looking at all of our knees while we sat in the departure lounge of the airport awaiting our flight home!

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Sweet Kokeshi is Completed!

You may remember some weeks ago that I blogged about a cute kokeshi doll pattern by Melly and Me which I was planning on sewing for Operation Christmas Child (see this post).  I was really excited to give this pattern a go as it is so pretty and seemed quite straightforward.

I decided that this would be a great portable craft to bring along on my travels around the Northern Territory and, since we didn't do much sightseeing at night because of the kids, I managed to complete kokeshi's hair, face and most of her kimono while we were on holiday.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I am not the most confident of embroiderers and did find it a little hard going with the more delicate details on the kokeshi.  Her mouth took me two attempts to get right, and it still looks a little crooked to me.  Also, as you can see, I cheated for the flowers and did them in lazy daisy stitch rather than back stitching 10 small flowers and one large one (yes, I am a coward, ha ha).
Another deviation from the pattern was that I used a different colour scheme, opting to use a pink and blue combination rather than a straight red.  Not that I don't love red or the original design, but I just can't help myself when it comes to mixing and matching colours!

Of course, my little girls have asked me if I would PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE make them a kokeshi each since she is so beautiful.  I told them maybe, because right now, I don't know if I can face any more hand sewing!  If I do make more of these pretty dolls, I will probably only do so in VERY GOOD light - I nearly went cross-eyed sewing her in very bad hotel lighting.  I would also read the instructions next time...something which I failed to do this time round, resulting in  a few problems and the need for unpicking.  I hope my post has inspired you to try something new or different!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Buyster Rugs - Giveaway Winner

Thank you so much to everyone who has taken the time to enter the giveaway I hosted for Buyster Rugs!  There were almost 50 valid entries, which I'm pretty satisfied with for my first giveaway, especially one which was open only to Australian residents.

So, without further ado, I'd like to announce that Stacey of Sunweeds was the ninth comment and is, therefore, our winner!  Congratulations Stacey, I will be in contact with you about your prize.

Wishlist Wednesday - Something for Little Girls

Today's wishlist Wednesday is full of items I think my daughters would love.  It's kind of an eclectic mix since they're quite "girly" but also love cars, monsters and Lego.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

My Northern Territory Holiday - The Playgrounds of Alice Springs

Today's holiday blog post covers a topic I never thought I would be writing about in conjunction with a holiday to a new, exciting and unexplored location.  More experienced parents will think I am foolish, I know, but I never thought that a trip to a place like Alice Springs, which has so many bushwalks, museums and galleries to explore would result in me exploring almost every playground my kids set eyes on (I say almost every playground because we managed to convince them that the playground near our bed and breakfast hotel was not worth visiting).

Playground at the Araluen Cultural Precinct

Every time we reached a new location, my girls would scan the area and then cry, "Look!  A playground!"  And, as you will see in the last picture, if they couldn't find a playground, they would improvise.  Dry and sandy riverbeds make for great giant sandpits, according to my children.  And rocky tracks and climbs were a great source of stones to bang together or pretend they were dinosaur eggs, food, or whatever took their fancy!

Simple playground at the Olive Pink Botanic Garden

So, for those of you heading to Alice Springs with young children in the near future, make sure you note down the location of each of these playgrounds.  You might find the information very handy!  My next holiday post will be about some of the souvenirs we brought home with us.

Miss 4 enjoying the slide at the Old Ghan Heritage Railway and Museum

Miss 2 and my dad playing on the see saw outside the Old Ghan Heritage Museum

Making "cakes" in the mostly dry riverbed leading up to the gorgeous Simpsons Gap

Friday, 23 April 2010

Feature Friday - Epheriell

This week's feature Friday looks into the life of the lovely Jess and her amazing jewellery store, Epheriell.  Jess is also a member of DUST and, as we will find out, a very busy woman with her fingers in many pies!

Tell us a bit about yourself.
This year my husband Nick and I decided to spend the year travelling around Australia! We bought an empty Ford Transit van and have converted it into a campervan - so I'm running Epheriell on the road this year. It's my dream to make it work so that I can make Epheriell my full-time business - but I know this will take time and a lot of effort.

Describe yourself in 5 words.
Stubborn, slightly-obsessive, loyal, silly, and creative.

When and how did you first start crafting/creating?
I spent many years studying, and afterwards I worked in the Education field. In 2008 my then-partner (now husband) and I went to Fiji for a holiday. We met a lovely family there, and one of them gave me a novel when they left. I can't remember what it was called, but it was about the life of a woman who owned a yarn store. It inspired me to try knitting again... and basically it all snowballed from there! I started Epheriell in late 2008.

What do you create and what are your favourite materials with which to work?
Sterling silver, hands down! I make a range of artisan jewellery - but my focus is on a range of simple designs featuring 100% recycled sterling silver. I'm also just introducing a range of beautiful gemstone briolette jewellery using recycled sterling silver.

When and how did you start selling online?
I joined Etsy in October 2008, and started listing a few little earrings and such. I couldn't believe it when I actually sold something!!! When I look back now on those early designs and photos, I can see just how far I have come as a jewellery designer.

Describe your store in 5 words.
Contemporary, eco-friendly, urban, feminine, stylish.

Where can we find you online? 

Thursday, 22 April 2010

My Northern Territory Holiday - Bush Food

Today's post is the second in my series of blog posts about my recent holiday.  I have been a big fan of "bush food" for quite some time now, so whenever I head to areas of Australia where the Australian Aboriginal culture is quite strongly cultivated, I go in search of bush food.

Bush cucumber, Cucumis melo sp. agrestis.  Supposed to be very good for quenching thirst in the desert.

For those of you who aren't familiar with this name, the term "bush food" generally encompasses both "bush tucker" (food which the Aboriginal people found in the wild, including nuts and berries from native plants) and more modern cooking which uses the flavours and ingredients of bush tucker.

Models of the witchetty grub, Endoxyla leucomochla, being examined by my mum.  I have been told these taste like "scrambled eggs with butter".

Our first encounter with bush food was at a talk about Aboriginal life and survival in the bush at the Alice Springs Desert Park.  We were told about various fruits and seeds used by Aborigines for food, including seeds which were ground up to make a kind of flour for cakes and breads, as well as various plants used as bush medicines.

Bush fig, Ficus racemosa (I think)

As a past medical research scientist, I was extremely fascinated by the bush medicines used by the Aborigines.  Bush remedies were derived from plants and animals and ranged from cures for warts (by inserting phyllodes from the Acacia tetragonophylla around the wart) to plants which could be used for chest congestion (described as the equivalent of Vicks chest rub by an Aboriginal park ranger) and headaches.  In fact, one remedy for headache, the native lemongrass (Cymbopogon ambiguus), has been found to contain eugenol, an aspirin-like chemical.

Bush meat mixed grill

Nowadays, bush food and bush medicine have become growing industries, with ever increasing interest from restaurants, food companies and medical researchers.  Of course, we had to try out some bush food, so my dear husband took me out for a "date night" while my parents kindly stayed back at the hotel with the kiddies (they were all happy to consume ravioli carbonara at the hotel).  We went to the Bo Jangles Saloon, an intentionally seedy-looking cowboy-themed restaurant, where we found some interesting, and delicious, "bush food" dishes.  Malcolm ordered the bush meat mixed grill, which included a crocodile rissole, an emu sausage, a buffalo meat medallion, camel shashlik and a kangaroo fillet served with a chilli and bush plum sauce.  I chose the slightly less adventurous, but still delicious, NT camel and stout pie seen below.

Northern Territory camel and stout pie

I'm afraid this has turned out to be a rather long and overly detailed blog post!  I wasn't intending on it being this long, it just came out this way, hee hee.  My next holiday post will be a much shorter one looking at the playgrounds of Alice Springs (yes, you read correctly, I said playgrounds).  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Giveaway! Are you in need of a floor rug?

I have an exciting announcement today - I am offering my first ever blog giveaway!  I have seen so many giveaways on other people's blogs, and I have been wanting to join the fun for quite some time.

The Obssession rug would add interest to my lounge room.

"Tell me more", I hear you saying.  Well, I have a $55 voucher to give away from buyster rugs - how cool is that?!  Buyster rugs is an Australian-based online company which sells rugs (obviously), floor runners and door mats.  They stock a large range of oriental rugs as well as more contemporary styles and even rugs for children's rooms.

My girls would love this daisy rug for their rooms.

You can spend your gift voucher on any product from buyster rugs and it will be delivered to your home.  Please note that this giveaway is open to AUSTRALIAN RESIDENTS only.

To enter this giveaway, you must:
1. Tell me which rug you would choose, if money was no object, and where you would use it in your home.

Extra entries:
2. Follow my blog publicly
3. Follow me on Twitter (please leave me your username)
4. Blog, Tweet or FB about this giveaway and leave me the link
5. Add my blog button to your website or blog

Please leave a comment for each entry and don't forget to LEAVE ME A WAY TO CONTACT YOU should you be the winner.

The winner will be chosen using next Wednesday, 28 April 2010.  You have until 3pm (AEST) on that day to enter the giveaway.

Edit: This giveaway is now CLOSED.  Thanks to all who entered my first giveaway.

Monday, 19 April 2010

My Northern Territory Holiday - Amazing Scenery

To help myself get back into the rhythm of my normal life, I am going to spend the next few weeks posting about various aspects of my holiday to Alice Springs and Uluru/Ayers Rock.  For today's post I thought I would share some of the many pictures we took of the amazing landscape we saw on our travels.
Malcolm with miss 2 and miss 4 at  Standley Chasm (Angkerle), just outside of Alice Springs

I would love to share all of my photos with you, but I have to admit that after a while, the various rock formations and caves all sort of blur into one if you weren't actually there when the photos were taken.
The landscape of the Northern Territory is like nothing else I've experienced before.  It is a fairly dry and barren landscape (with the exception of the day we arrived where we were treated to an unusually large downpour just as we were picking up our hire car) with predominantly red soil and marked at various places by large, and often odd-looking, rock formations, hills and mountains.

My mum walking through a rock formation on the trail to Standley Chasm

I was quite unprepared for the number of dry (or mostly dry) riverbeds, streams and creeks we saw on our travels.  After the downpour we witnessed on our arrival in Alice Springs, the locals told us about how flooded the Todd River was compared to its normal state.  For someone from Melbourne who had experienced freak storms and floods in March, the flooded Todd River didn't look particularly flooded.  However, six days after our arrival in Alice Springs, we saw just how quickly the river could dry up if there was no rainfall!

The view of Simpsons Gap from the mostly dry riverbed (and miss 4 being a bird or aeroplane down the bottom of the picture, LOL)

I was also quite unprepared for the difficulty of many of the interesting walks and trails around Alice Springs and the nearby gaps and gorges.  The trail up to the Standley Chasm was rocky to the extreme and made more difficult by the many little streams and pools of water we had to navigate.  When we visited the Emily and Jessie Gaps, we had to practically long jump over small streams to get to our destination (not fun while carrying a two or four year old).  We unfortunately had to stop when we reached large pools of water which we decided not to wade through due to a lack of swimwear and towels and the amount of non-waterproof gear we were carrying.

View of Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) as the sun was setting

The 5 hour drive from Alice Springs to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park provided us with a rather flat and barren landscape, making the drive a relatively monotonous one.  The relatively flat landscape served to accentuate the size and beauty of Uluru and Kata Tjuta - it was so exciting to be able to see them in the distance while we were still on the road.  We did get fooled for a few minutes by Mount Connor - this mountain is apparently frequently confused for Uluru at first glance.  We were so excited to see Mount Connor, and really surprised to be able to see "Uluru" when we were not that close to the national park.  Once we had calmed down, we realised that we were too far away from the national park and the shape and size were not right for the real Uluru, ha ha ha.  It did give us a good laugh and broke up the monotony of the journey.

The sky over Kata Tjuta at sunset

One of the most beautiful things we saw on our trip was not actually the landscape, but the sky.  Sunset and sunrise at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta national park are stunningly beautiful!  We managed to view the sunset on the first night we spent at the national park, although the lateness of the sunset and the long drive back to our accomodation meant that we sat  down to a very late dinner.  We had hoped to view the sunrise over Uluru the next morning, but decided it was too much of a rush to fit into our already packed schedule (and very hard waking up early enough to view the sunrise from a decent location).

A view of Uluru (Ayers Rock) from the car

I hope you have all enjoyed the pictures I have included in this post.  I know some of them aren't brilliant and most of them really do not do justice to the fascinating sights we saw.  If you are planning to visit Alice Springs or Uluru in the near future, feel free to drop me a line and I can give you my perspective of travelling in these areas.

One of several caves one sees on the Mala walk to the Kantju Gorge at Uluru

Friday, 9 April 2010

Holiday Discount

Chambers Pillar, Alice Springs, Australia

As many of you know, I am about to embark on a much anticipated, and much needed, holiday (although it will now sadly be without my sister and brother-in-law due to unforseen circumstances).  I will hopefully be enjoying the sights and sounds of the Northern Territory for a week with my family.

vintage jewel earrings turquoise

I debated about whether to put my store in vacation mode for the, week but decided that I didn't want to miss any visitors who may find my store during this time.  Instead, I'm keeping my store open but will not be mailing out any packages until I return from holiday.

wire wrapped pink swarovski and pearl necklace

To thank my loyal customers for their patience during this time, I am offering 15% off storewide (excludes shipping) on purchases made from 10th April - 17th April (AEST), inclusive.  That's right, 15% off anything in my store!  I will send refunds via Paypal once I return from my holiday.

vintage bead necklace speckled by Two Cheeky Monkeys on Etsy

I hope your coming week won't be too boring without my usual posts (hee hee) and promise to post some of my photos on here once I get back into a normal routine!

Feature Friday - Robin's Flight

Today's featured artist is Robin of Robin's Flight.  Robin is a fellow CAST member who creates fun and colourful crocheted bags and wallets.  We also discovered a similarity in our working backgrounds!  Let's see what she had to say about herself and her art...

Tell us a bit about yourself. 
I live in Livonia (Detroit area), Michigan, USA. I've been in this area for 12 years now. I'm a stay at home mom of 2 wonderful kids, ages 5 and 2. Before I had kids, I did cancer research.

Describe yourself in 5 words.
Creative, resourceful, wife and mother

When and how did you first start crafting/creating?
My grandmother taught me how to crochet when I was 8, and my mother to sew shortly after that. I picked up the crochet again while looking for a job after grad school. I started with afghans, but moved to bags and other smaller projects that took less time.

What do you create and what are your favourite materials with which to work?
I make crocheted bags and purses that are fully lined with fabric. I put in zipper pockets and other intricacies which make them more useful and durable. I usually use cotton yarn, and pretty fabrics that catch my eye.

When and how did you start selling online?
I started my etsy shop exactly a year ago.

Describe your store in 5 words.
My bags have been described as "casual chic," unique, sophisticated, trendy and pretty

Where can we find you online?
My etsy shop is at:

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

New Additions to the Glam It Up Range!

I know I've mentioned several times how much I love vintage beads, buttons, books, fabric, the list goes on.  So it seemed a logical step for me to create jewellery pieces which incorporated at least some vintage components.  I have been besotted with vintage glass jewels for months, but did not realise how besotted I was until a friend mentioned that she associates vintage jewels with me and called them my "trademark" range of jewellery.  She was referring to my Glam It Up range of vintage jewel earrings, and I have to admit that I love these so much that I made a pair for myself and wear them everywhere.

Today I have a sneak peek of some additions to this range, including a necklace.  I have been playing with new colours and designs and am excited about what I've created so far.

vintage teardrop jewel earrings emerald green gold hollywood
Emerald Green Teardrop Earrings

vintage glass jewel earrings peridot green silver hollywood glam
Peridot Green Earrings

vintage glass jewel earrings topaz brown gold hollywood glam by Two Cheeky Monkeys on Etsy
Topaz Brown Earrings (the big sister to the Mini Glam It Up Earrings)

vintage glass jewel necklace emerald green gold glam by Two Cheeky Monkeys on Etsy
Emerald Green Necklace

I noticed as I was writing this post that there is a bias towards the greens and a gold-plated finish!  There are also sapphire blue, turquoise and smoky grey items to come in a range of finishes, and I will be incorporating metal components, such as charms, into some of my designs as well.  If you have any colour combinations you would like to see, feel free to drop me a line!

Kokeshi Sweetheart - My Current Attempt at Softie Making

I am not sure if I have mentioned that I love to sew, although I am not exactly proficient at this craft.  I love attempting to make clothes for my girls as well as sewing softies (aka plushies) for them and for their cousins.  Each year my church participates in filling shoe boxes with gifts for Operation Christmas Child, and I decided to sew some softies each year for these Christmas boxes.
Now, I know Christmas may seem a long way away, but I like to be organised and, as I said, my sewing skills aren't exactly top notch.  Below are some examples of softies I've sewn for past OCC contributions.

Matryoshka inspired by Vlijtig and adapted from a Craftzine pattern and Monster softie from Revoluzza
This year I am thinking of trying my hand at an embroidered softie.  I'm a bit nervous, since hand sewing is really not my forte, but the pattern I have chosen is sooooo beautiful.  It is a little kokeshi softie designed by the amazing team Melly and Me.

This little kokeshi is just adorable, I'm sure I already have some great fabric in my stash and some matching embroidery threads.  I just hope that my back stitch is neat enough to do justice to this lovely pattern!