Friday, 30 August 2013

Hot Non-Celebrity Dads

Okay, so today's post is a little tongue-in-cheek and was written in response to a Father's Day (this Sunday in Australia) article I saw celebrating "hot celebrity dads".  Yes, it is nice to know that there are some men in Hollywood who are committed and devoted fathers and husbands.  But I thought it would be nice to celebrate the normal, every day dad; the guy who does it without a host of nannies, the big pay packet or the gorgeous celebrity wife!  (Because unfortunately, as much as I would like to have Angelina's beautiful figure and pouty lips, I don't.)

So first up is my own personal hottie, Mr Cheeky Monkeys.  This photo was taken when Cheeky Monkey #1 was only three months old, and it epitomises Mr Monkeys' attitude towards his children - hands on.  He's always been there to help with nappy changes, bottle feeds when I couldn't breast feed, settling whiny kids, cleaning toilet training mishaps, you get the picture!  He has also been very eager to teach them and train them to be responsible little people.  He is a great dad to the Cheeky Monkeys and they love him for it (as do I).

This was taken back in 2010, when we all travelled to the Nothern Territory of Australia together.

Of course, I'm also celebrating my dad, who is sadly no longer with us.  I don't think he counts under the "hot dad" title (though I'm sure my mum would disagree, LOL), but he was a good dad who was also very hands on with raising his children, something which many men didn't do in those days.  He was also a loving grandpa to the Cheeky Monkeys and was always happy to volunteer my mum and himself for babysitting duties - he even helped to change the Monkeys' nappies!!!

Attack daddy time!

So for my Australian friends, which wonderful dad are you celebrating this weekend?  Your husband, your own dad, your father-in-law?  Do tell!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Sneak Peek: Domum Vindemia's Christmas Range

image domum vindemia christmas stocking vintage doily linen doilies embroidered

I don't want to scare you, but did you know that Christmas is in four months' time???  I know this seems like a long time for most (especially small people!), but for a small retail business like mine, it's a time when I have to prepare for the busy Christmas shopping season.

image domum vindemia christmas stocking vintage doily linen doilies embroidered

This year, I am preparing Domum Vindemia for the busy season by expanding my range of fabric Christmas stockings.  Over the next few weeks I will be slowly adding Christmas stockings made from vintage, embroidered doilies (like the ones shown above) to my stores.  I love the "patchwork" effect produced by piecing together these old doilies - what do you think? 

Monday, 26 August 2013

Singapore Chicken Curry

image singapore chicken curry

Having been born in Singapore to parents who were quite fond of curry and other spicy foods, it's probably not surprising that I have grown up to also love these foods.  One of my all time favourite curries is Singapore chicken curry, because it has a delicious mix of spices and flavours (and it has potatoes, which I adore).  I've taught the rest of the Cheeky Monkeys family to love this curry too, and I thought I would share my version of the recipe with you!

- 1.2 kg chicken drumsticks (or 800g diced chicken thigh fillets if you don't want the mess of picking bones out of your meal)
- 4 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1cm wide pieces
- 4-6 potatoes (depending on size), peeled and cut into 2.5cm dice
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 stalk fresh lemongrass, bruised with your knife
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 3cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
- 5 cardomom pods, crushed with the flat of your knife
- 6 dried cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 8-10 curry leaves
- 1-2 Tb meat curry powder, or to taste (I like to use Alagappa's Meat Curry Powder, or similar)
- 420g canned tomatoes (optional)
- 1/2 can of coconut milk (optional)
- warm water, as needed

1. Fry the onions until starting to soften, then add in the ginger, garlic, curry powder and dry spices.  Fry for a few minutes until fragrant.

2. Add the chicken to the pan and fry quickly until browned.

3. Add the lemongrass, vegetables, coconut milk and canned tomatoes (if using).  Pour in enough warm water to just cover the chicken and vegetables.  Simmer for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until chicken and vegetables are fully cooked.  If the curry gets too dry, top up with a little hot water.

4. Serve the curry with rice and stir-fried or steamed vegetables (ignore my peas and corn, I had had a VERY tiring day and didn't have the energy to whip up a veggie stir fry too).

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Mr Darcy's Proposal

image mr darcy proposal elizabeth bennet locket necklace gold ivory cream glass pearl

During the last few weeks I have been working on a special custom order and I can finally reveal my romantic creation.  I was contacted by a groom who had seen this Pride and Prejudice locket necklace and wanted a similar one to give to his bride-to-be as a wedding present.  He asked for a gold-plated finish for the necklace as well as a light-coloured pearl.  But most importantly of all, he really wanted the snippet of text in the locket to be taken from Mr Darcy's first (and rather disastrous!) proposal to Elizabeth Bennet.

image mr darcy proposal elizabeth bennet locket necklace gold ivory cream glass pearl

The romantic in me was absolutely touched by this excited groom's jewellery order (though I did have a little giggle at his text request) and I have had a lot of fun working on this piece.  The statement necklace is now winging its way to its new owner and I hope that she will cherish it as a memento of her husband-to-be's love.

Monday, 19 August 2013

My Creative Space - An Embroidered Crochet Hook Roll

image embroidered crochet hook roll vintage doily navy blue crinoline lady gentle art of stitching

Today's blog post continues with my love of crocheting, although the post is not about crocheting!  Several years ago, I made a storage roll for my jewellery pliers.  I love this roll so much, and it has helped to improve my tidiness and organisation.  So with lots of crochet hooks rolling around various tabletops in my home, I decided it was high time I made a storage roll for them.

image embroidered crochet hook roll vintage doily navy blue cream

The design of this storage roll is similar to the other one, with the exception that I predominantly used felt for this project.  This meant a few alterations were needed to my general pattern, but I am pretty happy with the result.  My favourite part has to be the outside of the roll, which I embellished with a vintage embroidered doily.  The borders of orange and blue flowers were part of the original doily design, which I added to by embroidering a crinoline lady adapted from a pattern in Jane Brocket's The Gentle Art of Stitching.  The helpful, but slightly annoying, part of having all my crochet hooks in one place?  I've discovered that I am missing one hook, which also happens to be one of my favourite sizes to use, oh dear!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Things I Love - Pom Poms

The Two Cheeky Monkeys and I are huge fans of pom poms (I'm not sure if it's their cuteness or their fluffiness that appeals to us) so I have been slowly and painfully teaching them how to make their own.  And while trying to find tips for how to teach two uncoordinated little girls how to make pom poms without all the angst of tangled yarn, I have found some delightful tutorials in blogland!  Here are a few of my current favourites...

Super simple method on Mollie Makes for making pom poms using a fork!


Animal pom poms - wow, oh wow.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Hyperbolic Crochet - Where Science Meets Art and Craft

image hyperbolic crochet pseudosphere coral

Those of you who have been crocheting for a while will probably have heard of hyperbolic crochet - an amazing use of crochet devised to help mathematics students understand and visualise hyperbolic planes and other forms of hyperbolic geometry.  The idea was first developed by Daina Taimina, a mathematics professor at Cornell University (as well as an accomplished knitter, crocheter and artist) but has since been taken on by others and expanded upon to create beautiful works in other fields, including the mind-blowing crochet coral reef by the Institute for Figuring.

image hyperbolic crochet pseudosphere coral

When I first read about hyperbolic crochet, I hadn't yet learned to crochet, but was fascinated by the concept because I love it when science and art/craft meet and because Mr Cheeky Monkeys is my favourite maths geek and could have gone far in the world of maths if he hadn't had to find a job to support a student wife.  Anyway, since learning to crochet, I have been keen to try out hyperbolic crochet.  I was a little surprised to discover that, though the results look spectacularly complex, the method for creating simple pieces (such as this "coral", or pseudosphere, that I made for the little Cheeky Monkeys) is really very simple.  All you need is some perseverence to keep going (your stitch number does increase exponentially, after all!) and you will be able to create a fun and beautiful piece.  And if you want to try this technique for yourself, a quick Google search will yield a multitude of patterns for you to try out.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Commemorative Crafting

In the lead up to my second round of foot surgery, I had a lot of fun reading through Julie Collings' book, Pretty Little Felts.  I can definitely recommend the book for those who love to create both functional and decorative projects from beautiful felt.  I LOVE to create with felt because it is both an affordable fabric and very forgiving too; it is also a great material for little ones to use in their crafting.  Anyway, I fell in love with the vintage photo ornament project and decided that I had to turn a photo from my parents' wedding into a commemorative ornament!  Every time I look at this photo I am taken away by how pretty my mum looks (and how brave she was to wear her hair down and a long-sleeved dress in the midst of the Singapore HEAT) and have a giggle at my adorably dorky dad with his horn-rimmed glasses.  The photo also makes me a little sad as I remember how much I miss my dad, but generally, it is to me a wonderful celebration of the years they had together and the strong and encouraging marriage they built.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Things I Love - Recycled Creations

You should all know by now just how much I love upcycling or recycling old and broken things into new and beautiful things.  I'm not sure why I love upcycling so much, but I suspect it has something to do with my pack rat nature, he he he.  But do you know what I love even more?  Finding quirky, fun or amazing upcycled creations by other artists and crafters!  So today I am sharing some upcycled creations that warm the cockles of my pack rat/recyclers heart.

Vintage Chenille makes cute soft toys from old woollen blankets.

I'm not a beer drinker, but I love the quirkiness of these drinking glasses by Pete's Glasses!

Who says recycling can't produce something absolutely gorgeous?!  Red Zebra Designs' book bouquet is beautiful.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Fabulous Fungi Finds

image toadstool mushroom fungus fungi laetiporus portentosus eucalyptus tree

Okay, okay, apologies for the cheesy alliteration - I just can't help myself!  But I'm not just fascinated by alliterations, I am also extremely fascinated with fungi (unless it's growing on my food of course!)  This winter has been a relatively wet one in Melbourne and there have also been some unseasonally warm patches of weather too.  I think all this has made conditions beautiful for the fungal growth to appear in the native parklands close to my home.

image toadstool mushroom fungus fungi laetiporus portentosus eucalyptus tree
This one had fallen off its tree.

The Cheeky Monkeys and I have had fun spotting fungi along our walks to and from school and in the neighbourhood, but the prize of our finds were two very large toadstools (or maybe I should say fungal fruiting bodies) growing on the eucalyptus trees so abundant in our area.  I was seriously intrigued by these large fungal growths, having never seen a mushroom or toadstool so large.  A bit of Googling (what is the correct term for Google searching???), has led me to believe that these fungal giants belong to the Laetiporus portentosus species, which can supposedly be found growing on eucalyptus trees around NSW and Victoria.  So tell me, do you love to spot outcroppings of toadstools in your area?  And have you found anything amazing?