Friday, 21 October 2011

A Bevy of Buntings

Okay, so it is highly doubtful that "bevy" is the correct collective noun for a group of buntings, but I just couldn't resist because you all know how much I love alliteration!  I have been busily sewing up vintage doily and napkin buntings after my order of vintage bias tapes arrived and after I made a rather expensive trip (care of a little splurge on gorgeous oilcloth) to the fabric store.  I'm glad I found the time to make these buntings as the various bits and pieces that make up each doily have been sitting on my craft desk and creating a total mess for some time now!

The Alice bunting combines mint green bias tape and hand embroidered vintage napkins

I should mention that, because of the vintage nature of the doilies and bias tapes I use, each bunting is absolutely unique, one of a kind.  I know this can be disappointing for the brides wanting multiples of specific buntings, but I think this is the beauty of using vintage, and therefore limited, supplies.  And I can always try my best to make a collection of similar-looking buntings if the doilies I have used are not too rare or hard to find.

The Adele bunting features a strip of ruffled pink ribbon sewn over the bias tape

So what do you think of my new buntings?  Which style is your favourite and do you have any colour suggestions?

I love the vibrancy of the Florence bunting

The Meredith bunting is so summery and cheery

The autumn-inspired Theodora bunting

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

My Creative Space - The Letter D

When my dad passed away several months ago, I was overwhelmed by the love and support I received from everyone.  Many of you sent me cards and sweet gifts, and the artwork pictured above is just one of them.  It came as a black and white print from Mel of wiccked, who is our hardworking admin guru for the DUST team on Etsy.  Mel sells the most amazing artwork, including PDFs of her illuminated letters which you can purchase and colour in yourself.  I haven't finished working on mine (it is amazing how hard it is to find the exact shade of colour I want in a house full of texta and marker pens!) and it certainly doesn't do Mel's artwork justice, but head over to her store to see her beautiful versions of the alphabet.  What's in your creative space this week?

Monday, 17 October 2011

DUST Craft Swap

It has been a while since I participated in a DUST craft swap (DUST being a group of Australian artists, crafters and supply sellers who sell on Etsy); I think it has been over a year, in fact.  So when I saw the latest swap being organised, I jumped at the chance to participate.  And let me tell you that I practically squealed with delight when I found out that I was being paired with Mich of michvanetta and koot!  Mich creates gorgeous vintage-inspired jewellery as well as pretty tags, cards and beaded accessories.  Just look at the multitude of pretty items she created for my girls and me!

Vintage button magnets

Beautiful tags, stunning cards, a gorgeous doily and the sweetest bookmarks for the cheeky monkeys!

Since Mich is a fellow jeweller, it made sense for me not to send her jewellery, but to send some Domun Vindemia creations.  She mentioned that she liked to host little get-togethers with other mums so I made a dessert stand and a bunting to add a vintage look to her functions.  If you look carefully at the bunting I made, you will notice that the bias binding has been adorned with a strip of delicate, blue lace.  Thanks Mich for the great swap and for inspiring this new style of bunting!

Althea (III) dessert stand

Augusta bunting

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Funding a School in a Needy Community: Can You Help?

It is sometimes so easy for me to take for granted everything that I have been blessed with in my life.  Sure, my family and I have been through some really tough times, especially recently, but when I look at the big picture, there really isn't much, if anything, in my life that is lacking.  I have cars to take me where I need to go, I have a nice home which only seems small because of all the excess belongings we own, I have access to relatively good health and education systems, I can attend church without wondering if the government will have us arrested for holding a church meeting, and I have so much food in my pantry that I struggle with overeating issues.

Lydia's List: helping impoverished women.

When I opened the doors of Two Cheeky Monkeys I decided that I wanted to use some of the profits to benefit those who do not have access to even the basic things many of us take for granted in the developed world.  (Let me hasten to add that I'm not some super holy charity-funding saint.  I simply believe that we should use what we have been blessed with (and I've been blessed with a lot) to help others.)  I decided to support TEAR Australia's Lydia's List project, which was involved in women-focused community development projects in countries such as Nepal and Bangladesh.  Sadly, this project has come to an end so I have been thinking about new projects which I can support.  Since I have been blessed with the opportunity to undertake more years of study than I care to count (honestly, don't make me count, you'll probably run away screaming!), I decided that I would like to use Two Cheeky Monkeys and Domum Vindemia to support the development of community schools in developing countries.

So comes the point of this rather lengthy blog post.  Firstly, I should say a big thank you to those of you who have helped me to support the Lydia's List and community school projects so far through your support of my online stores.  Your committment to handmade living has not just benefitted me, but has also helped women and children in far away lands.  Secondly, I would ask if you are able to help me further by contributing to a once off fundraising auction I am hoping to set up on Facebook.  There are several ways in which people can be involved: you can spread the news via your preferred social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc), you can donate a handmade item (or gift certificate to your store) for the auction, you can bid on items in the auction, or you could do all of the above!
All proceeds from the auction will go to TEAR's community school project.  And due to the far reaching benefits of education, this should hopefully help not just the current generation of children, but the entire community and many generations to come.  If you would like to find out more about helping the Community School auction, please leave me a way of contacting you in the comments, or you can email me directly (see the "contact" tab).  Thank you so much in advance!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Before and After - Picture Frames

The cheeky monkeys have been eager to decorate their bedroom walls, so during the recent school holidays, we tackled a project which I had been interested in trying out for some time.  I found the project years ago at Living Creatively, which unfortunately, no longer exists (at least not in a format that I can find).  I love this little project because I'm fascinated by silhouette art and I studied French in high school (and amazingly could translate most of the text used in the artwork!)  The monkeys were eager to try it out because it involved painting, cutting and gluing, ha ha ha.

Of course, me being me, I made the project harder by deciding that, instead of just buying suitable picture frames from a store, we would repurpose old, unwanted picture frames from our local op shop (hence the "before and after" in the post title).  Both girls wanted their frames to be pink (of course...sigh) so that's the colour that we painted onto the old frames.  Although I spray painted the undercoat onto the frames, I foolishly let the girls paint the rest by hand rather than going out and buying a can of pink spray paint.  So, turning our old, brown frames into new, pink ones took the better part of a day with all the drying time required between coats.  I know better for next time!  The girls are really pleased with how their artworks turned out and I know they will have pride of place on their walls. 

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

My Creative Space - Bunting

Adele Bunting

I am absolutely loving sewing buntings for my Domum Vindemia store at the moment!  Although I always get a little nervous cutting vintage napkins and doilies to size for each bunting, I really enjoy the creative process.  And viewing the completed product is a sure way to bring a smile to my face!  This bunting is a little different from my previous creations as the crocheted edges and corners of the beautiful napkins I used inspired me to try something a little more "girly".  Rather than merely joining each napkin "flag" with plain bias binding, I added a strip of vintage, pink ribbon to the bias.
I also folded the rayon ribbon into ruffles to add interest to the design and am quite pleased with how it's turned out.  Unfortunately, I ran out of ribbon just before I reached the end of my bunting, so I am impatiently waiting for my supplies to arrive so that I can finish sewing the Adele bunting and hopefully sew a few more buntings in this style.  So what do you think?  Do you like my extra girly bunting or do you prefer my standard style?

Monday, 10 October 2011

Monday Inspiration

flowers in teacup white pom poms

I woke up today to an overcast day which did not help the already present gloom that comes with the start of the school term and the realisation that I am back in the routine of waking up early, making lunches and washing school uniforms.  But I can't help but smile every time I see this little teacup of flowers sitting on my dining table.  I don't know what species they are, cheeky monkey #2 and I picked them on our walk yesterday, but the monkeys and I think they look like cute, little floral pom poms. Perhaps they are waiting for a miniature cheerleader to come and pick them up!

Friday, 7 October 2011

I Love Pasta!

Although titled "I love pasta", this story starts with Chinese noodles.  You see, I have memories from my childhood of using a pasta machine to make Chinese noodles with my parents.  My mum would make the noodle dough while dad would help us kids to roll and cut the dough into noodles with our handy dandy pasta machine which they apparently brought all the way from Singapore to Australia (are you confused yet).  And then when all the noodles were made, my mum would cook us a delicious noodle dish for lunch or dinner!  Now I LOVE noodles and I LOVE pasta, so I decided last year that it was about time I tried making my own pasta with the "help" of my cheeky monkeys.

My faithful pasta machine cranking out the spinach lasagne sheets.

Since my parents were no longer using their pasta machine for pasta or noodles, they passed it to me to bring it back out of retirement, so to speak.  The cheeky monkeys have absolutely enjoyed our attempts at making pasta so far.  Being me, I was not content to make just plain pasta, it had to be flavoured, so we've made herb pasta (using herbs from our garden) as well as pumpkin pasta (which nobody liked, even me, the pumpkin lover).  And this week we made spinach pasta (using store bought frozen spinach) which I turned into lasagne!  Now, at this point my dad would have made some comment about how the Italians got the idea for pasta from the Chinese, but I digress...

The lasagne - you can see the layers of green pasta if you squint!

 I have to say that, although I was absolutely exhausted after my mammoth day of pasta and lasagne making, it was really fun making this dish pretty much completely from scratch (it's not completely from scratch since I didn't make the cheese myself or grow the vegetables...).  There's something nice about not eating plain old regular pasta (yes, I get bored easily so like a little bit of excitement in my meals, LOL) and, as you can see below, it certainly helps the cheeky monkeys to eat their meals better (well, faster, at least) when they've helped to make it!

The cheeky monkeys enjoying their dinner.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

My Creative Space

Skye necklace

After the relative success of making a button necklace for myself, I was inspired to work on more jewellery pieces for...myself!  I wanted a few simple necklaces which I could wear pretty much anywhere, especially as I head back into the world of research science where I never felt comfortable wearing my statement or delicate jewellery pieces while sporting latex gloves and protective lab coats or surgical gowns.  I probably won't be adding either of these designs to my stores, but if you would like a custom version for yourself or a friend, then contact me via email and I can work out a quote.  :)

Freedom necklace

Monday, 3 October 2011

New Beginnings and Directions

Mr Cheeky Monkeys, cheeky monkey #1 (who was 16 months old then) and me (with cheeky monkey #2 in utero) after my graduation.

As you may know, I have a background in research science and my pre-handmade business day job was as a scientist at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne.  I spent all five years of my PhD, and the one year that I worked after graduating, studying the biology behind serious side effects of radiation therapy until I decided to quit my job when cheeky monkey #2 was born.  I always hoped to return to the research world when both of my children were older, but the competitive and government-funded nature of the industry meant that it was impossible for me to find anyone willing to hire me on a part-time basis.  And hence, Two Cheeky Monkeys (and now Domum Vindemia) was born out of the time I now had to re-explore my creative side.

Monash Institute of Medical Research

Although I missed my old profession, I have enjoyed my immersion into the handmade world and feel blessed to have met (both online and in real life) so many amazing artisans and craftspeople both from Australia and around the world.  In fact, I have been starting to feel like I was finally settling into this new world of mine when I was offered a part-time job out of the blue, which I have since accepted.  Although I have some reservations about taking up this new position, I am thankful for the opportunity and do realise what a miracle and a blessing it is to receive such an offer.  Because my new job is part-time, I hope to keep running my online stores as well as tending to this blog, although I obviously won't be able to devote as much time to them.  I don't know how things are going to work out, but I hope and pray that I can balance the many facets of my life.  I would appreciate your prayers on my behalf and look forward to enjoying both the science and handmade worlds together.    :)