Friday, 4 May 2012

February – Sew young!

In February, Niamh made…..
... a birthday present for Ezra! All her own idea, all her own design, made completely by herself. I am as proud of her as she is of her creation!(Oh, and Ezra loved it too...especially as it had some chocolate in it!)

Thursday, 3 May 2012

January – Camping and glass painting.

We’re on to this year now….nearly caught up with the here and now! So in January we made…..
…..painted jars! We went camping with The McDowells (as in The McDowells) ….the weather was great, so was the campsite…and the company! I took a few crafty things to do (making paper, making kites, pencils, pens etc…) This was one of the activities for “craft hour”. I put a few jars through the dishwasher, and peeled the labels off. In the UK I used to use sticky stuff remover to get the last bits of glue off  the jars, but I haven’t found it on the shelf here in Australia. I can get it online, but haven’t got round to it yet. Anyway, I made do with Aeroguard which got most of the glue off! I have proper paints for glass painting, from peebo. But for the younger children, I have found that permanent markers are easier to use and more satisfying for them. So we had a mixture of ages, and a mixture of techniques. It was great lighting them up in the evening – they looked fab!

In January, I also revived my 6 month old sour dough starter, and made this..... best sourdough loaf yet! I used this sourdough method (I've tried a few, but I think this is the best!) I don't have a cloche to cover the bread in the oven, so I use an upturned pyrex casserole dish - works brilliantly and gives the bread a proper crispy crust. I think I'll make some more tomorrow!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

December – Fabric Vegetable Patch.

In December, I made…..

….a fabric vegetable patch for Ezra! I used Sew Hip Issue 8 to make the veggies. Then I improvised a cardboard box covered in an old woolly jumper for the “soil”. It was really just to give him something else to open on Christmas morning, but it proved to be a hit! He loved pulling the veggies out of the “soil” over, and over again! And 4 months on, it still gets played with…..and the best thing is, it didn’t cost me a penny! I only used fabric and stuffing from my stash. I love it when improvising turns out ok! 

In December, we also made…..

….clay models! We used air-dry clay, which is actually a bit difficult for a 3 year old to model, but with a bit of help from Mummy (rolling out long snakes, over and over again!) Ezra managed to make some things he was happy with....and he was even more happy with them when he had painted them blue! 

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

November – Portraits and spectacle cases!

In November last year, I painted…..
 .... a child’s portrait….my child….Ezra….looking cheeky and coy! I painted one of Niamh too, but whilst I was happy enough with it that I sent it to my mum (Niamh’s Nanna) for Christmas, it wasn’t quite as “life-like” as the Ezra one. I will do another and share it with you in the future….In the meantime, I thought I’d share a painting of Niamh that I did when she was about the same age as Ezra is in this one.

This giant painting (1m x 1.30m) is in my parents loft. My poor parents have got a lot of our stuff in their loft…’s a reminder Mum and Dad, that we will be home in the future to clear it out for you. x

  In November, I also made a glasses/spectacle case for my Mum (so she will be able to find her glasses and see the paintings when they arrive!) 

I made up the pattern for this one. I’ll do a tutorial on how I did it if you’re interested! I got the “Internal flex frame” from the best  handbag supplies website in the world! I used to use this website a lot when I made bags. …and she delivers to Australia! Anyway, note the improvement in embroidery (if I do say so myself!) …..I love embroidery on patterned fabrics. I just love the way it looks so eclectic… I can’t wait to do some more…

Finally, in November I made…..
 ….an illustration for my Niece Chloe. “Chloe in Wonderland”. It is my first attempt at something so detailed. I know how I would improve it, but for now I am happy. I was even more happy that Chloe liked it, and it was her FB profile pic for a while. There might be some more illustrations coming your way in the future Chloe….!


Monday, 30 April 2012

October – Saints and Sinners (….or Paints and Pinners!)

In October, we made…..
A “Saints and Sinners” exhibition! At All Saints Church Nelson Bay
As with all the Art:illumina workshops, all ages are involved, from pre-school to Grandma. The intention is not to exhibit the artwork….but sometimes we do. We pinned it all up round the church and it looked very inspiring. There were some great thoughts that emerged from the sessions….as well as great artwork! 
Also in October, we had a few visitors to the tree in our yard.....
 We had about five Koalas popping by! I was so excited! We had seen Koalas at Blackbutt and Oakvale farm, we'd even seen one in the wild up at Tanilba Bay, but when they decided to choose the tree right outside our house, we were so honoured. I crept outside quietly and took this photo (I felt a bit bad because the flash went off - I usually leave it on for a fill-in flash effect which I like - but it didn't need to be on for this one!) Anyway, when I zoomed in on the photo on my camera, I spotted the Joey there too! What a bonus. This pair stayed for about a week before moving on. There was a really dramatic thunderstorm one night, and I got a bit worried about them. I checked out the window, and there they were, high up in the tree, swaying about, not bothered at all! I felt very cosy in my warm bed. So in honour of these two, and the other Koala visitors to our tree, I made these.....

It's a made-up pattern.....prototypes really. When I get the pattern sorted, I'll post it here so you can have a go too! 

Sunday, 29 April 2012

September – Oil Cloth tips!

In September, I made ……

.......a washbag for my sister! Again from Sew Hip Issue 11.

Pretty easy really, but the plastic covering was fiddly to sew. You could use oil cloth (which I didn’t have to hand) and that would save you the task of sewing the plastic covering to the fabric. However, both types of fabric would have a similar problem – the plastic sort of sticks to the foot/feed dogs. I used greaseproof paper over the plastic in the end (I think the instructions in Sew Hip suggest this). But one of the clever ladies at St Francis craft group (who was a professional seamstress in her working life) came up with the brilliant idea of furniture polish. The sort that you spray on. I didn’t get a chance to try it, but I would definitely try it next time!

Friday, 27 April 2012

August – Butterflies, butterflies and a Wedding Quilt!

Last year in August, we made….
.......a felt butterfly hairband and necklace. My Mum (Niamh’s Nanna) sent this cute button bag kit over to Australia from the Uk. I’m very tempted to make this hoodlet (free pattern from their website) but I fear that a) my children may be too old and b) it won’t get cold enough here for them to wear it……might have to make it for a Christmas pressie for someone back in the UK!  In August, I also made…..

A wedding quilt! So, before we left Australia for the Uk (to attend my Sister’s wedding) I was wracking my brains for something we could give the happy couple. It needed to be light, inexpensive  (said very quietly- We didn’t have any spare cash after paying for the plane tickets!) and easy to transport in our suitcases. We ruled out vases and wine. I remembered this quilt pattern in Sew Hip Issue 11

So I made the top in Australia before we left, knowing that I could get some backing fabric and batting without any trouble in the Uk (we don’t have Spotlight in the UK, but there is a very good fabric shop in Taunton, where my Parents live, and where we were staying
Anyway, when we got to the reception, my sister had organised squares fabric and fabric pens for the guests to write their best wishes for the newly-weds! (we hadn’t talked about it at all – and I can’t take any credit for that idea, but what a great idea of hers!)….and perfect because whilst they were on honeymoon, I sewed the squares together, used the quilt top that I had made as the other side. Finally quilting it all on my mum’s sewing machine… voila! If you were wanting to do the same at a wedding reception, I would recommend sketching on the seam allowance, or perhaps making a cardboard frame so guests don’t write all the way to the edge of the fabric (I had a few fiddly squares to sew that didn’t have much space to sew around!)


In July last year, we made....
....Ezra fly! Despite the sun, it was a chilly day (hence the wooly jumpers!)...and it was also our 9th wedding anniversary! We decided to celebrate by taking our traditional anniversary celebration (of cream tea, or Devonshire tea as they call it here in Australia) down to One Mile Beach. It was so windy! We ended up with sand in the tea, in the cream, on the scones, in the jam....not a great success, but we had a good time! Whilst we were there, we also made.....

....sand angels! And in July we also made.......

....knitted things! Oh, and that's a bit of the embroidery I was talking about. Niamh still hasn't finished the scarf she's making, but when she does, I'll post the pics! Finally in July, we made....

.....Croissants! I used this croissant recipe and instructions. I made two batches of about 6 croissants. They were very delicious and very rich....I ate far too many!

Thursday, 26 April 2012


In June last year, we made.....

Bird kites! The template and instructions are from a great camping book that I use all the time (even when we're not camping!) The Happy Campers book. It was a wet day last June, but this bird kite was great for making whilst the rain fell, then running about outside once it had stopped! In June, we also made....


Wednesday, 25 April 2012


In May last year, I made......

A little hoodie for Ezra! That's him, with his Ben10 "rotch"....oh, and the obligatory stick. This was made from a rather 80s looking pattern (as you can probably see!) ....but I am very much over buying patterns for practice projects. This was a free pattern in the St Francis craft group stash, so I thought I would give it a go! I made a more contemporary version for my nephew. I adapted this pattern so that the sleeves sat on the shoulders, rather than being drop shoulders (like this one). Also, on the better version I didn't add the ribbing round the bottom, I just hemmed it instead. If I find a picture, I'll post it!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


Last year in April, I made.....
A pinata cake! It was from one of the fantastic Sandra's books.....but I only glanced at the instructions in the book, perhaps I should have taken more notes because it was trickier than I thought! I made a small chocolate sponge (checking that the bowl I was going to use to make the chocolate "shell" was big enough to cover the cake tin). Then I melted a huge bar of chocolate (500g at least!) and used the melted chocolate to cover the inside of a clingfilm lined bowl. I let it set in the fridge, then removed it from the bowl, placed it over the cake and stuck some smarties on it......It looked pretty good! So when we sang Happy Birthday to Niamh (she was turning 7!)...she had a hammer to "crack" open the cake. Well that was the plan anyway! What really happened was that the chocolate had gone soft in the humid Australian climate, and so the hammer just sort of dented it! In the end, we just pulled the chocolate apart to get to the cake. Perhaps not quite as dramatic, but still good fun (and we all got chocolate, and we all got cake! In April we also made.......

An Art:illumina Exhibition! With my other hat on, I run Art and Spirituality workshops. This is a photo from the exhibition we put together in our house. This particular course was for lent. It was art-journalling course for the 40 days in Lent, with a simple creative task to do everyday. The results were great, the artwork produced look wonderful, as well as providing the people taking part with an opportunity to use Art as a spiritual activity. This year's course (Stations of the Cross) is still available online here: Art:illumina Stations of the Cross

Sunday, 22 April 2012


So last year in March, we made.......

....some more name bunting....for Finley! (Who, if you hadn't guessed, is an Everton Fan!) So I got the chance to try out some embroidery skills. You'll see my progress as I try again, and again, throughout the year! And in March, we also made......

A 'blue' third birthday cake! Ok, I know it's not really blue (On asking Ezra what sort of cake he would like for his birthday, he replied (abstractly) "a blue cake") Yes, I know I could have used blue food colouring. But I'm not a fan of food colouring, and I'm not a fan of blue food (is there any naturally blue food?!) I put it down to the primitive instincts that made me reject a blue coloured cake. So I took the abstraction even further and made a "blue"-berry cake. He was very pleased with it - I think he got the "blue" connection (even though, blueberries aren't really blue...more black/ purple).... and he loves blueberries so job done! Finally in March, I made.......
A pair of shorts for Ezra! The lovely ladies at St Francis craft group showed me their tips for taking short-cuts ('scuse the pun)....and these were made, start to finish in 2 hours. This shows me how long ago it has been since I blogged.....he's grown out of them they are folded up ready for his keepsake box!

Polly's Dolly is back!

Well, I cannot believe it has been over a year since I lasted posted! ....and the funny thing is, not a day went by when I thought ."...oooh, that would make a good blog post" (but perhaps only in my opinion....!) So, I thought I would catch up by posting some of the things we have made last year (month by month). By we, I mean me, dd Niamh and ds Ezra. So here we go....

More creative fun