Sunday, February 28, 2010

The fairy queen?


She looks rather queen like don't you think? I was asked to custom make a fairy outfit and this is what I came up with. A beaded wool felt crown and velvety cape.


A sparkly rainbow fairy dress.


And of course, a fairy is not complete without her wings!
I really enjoyed making this outfit.



This little one has a new dress with a wool felt cape and boots and is heading far away to her new home in the U.S.A tomorrow.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Make your own yoghurt


Yoghurt is getting really expensive in supermarkets and it's really easy and much cheaper to make your own. Did I mention it's also delicious - it is! You'll need some store bought natural yoghurt with live cultures and a cooking thermometer to start. This is for a small quantity, you can easily double the recipe for a larger batch.

I start with 2 cups of fresh full cream milk and heat in a saucepan to about 85 degrees celsius.
It's best to heat slowly to prevent burning.



Cool the milk to about 45 degrees celsius, then stir in 1/4 cup of the store bought yoghurt.



Pour the mixture into a large jar that has been cleaned with very hot & soapy water. Any utensils should also be pre - cleaned in this manner.


Put a lid on the jar. Wrap the jar with a towel and secure with rubber bands. You can fill another jar with hot water and lid it to keep the temperature in the esky more even if you like, I've found the yoghurt sets really well doing this.
Pop your jar/s in an esky and close the lid. Leave overnight (about 12 hours) then refrigerate. How easy is that?
Reserve some of your yoghurt for the next batch to use as the starter.

Next time I'll show you how to make yoghurt cheese or spread! Mmmmmm!!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My giveaway on Grosgrain!!


Yes, I'm having yet another doll giveaway, but this time it's not here. Go check it out at Grosgrain!

And if you're a foodie, or just a Mum providing meals for her family in a simple, nutritious and frugal way, go and join up my new blog Nourish from Scratch.

Grissini and choc chip rolls


Both of these recipes are from "The Easy Way to Artisan Breads & Pastries" (how could you go past that title?)
Making grissini was a new adventure for me but one I'll definitely repeat. The dough was straightforward and easy and the end product very nice. I used fresh rosemary from the garden. The only thing I'd change with the recipe is to reduce the salt. They will also go soft so they're best eaten straight away.

I had the idea of treating the children will these, but was a little let down by their response. Only 1 child liked them, I'm not sure why, but they were pretty dry. I feel like I still have to get to know my oven and it's temperatures, I seem to slightly overbake things sometimes and they end up dry.

There are plenty of other recipes I want to try in this book, so I'll be giving them a go over the next few days.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Homeschool resources


I have a few Lamb's Book of Art workbooks, I think they are fantastic. They're available in all different levels from preschool up and are biblically based, so you will find scripture quotes on each page and most of the activities are based on morals etc. I bought this one last year for my 9 year old son who had no confidence drawing, colouring or painting. This book has really changed his outlook on art, I highly recommend it.

I also have a couple of the preschool books for my 4 year old and she loves them. For the young children I photocopy the pages so we can go over them again and I can use them with the next children at the right age.

Another excellent resource is Seton Homeschooling. Although I don't use any Seton curriculum I am signed up for the monthly newsletter which is very helpful and informative. It reminds me of important religious days and ways to celebrate and it's ever so encouraging. One of the things I feel a lack of as a homeschooling Mum is encouragement, and I've found you go looking for it wherever you can!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I have a new blog!

Head over to Nourish from scratch for a look! I'll be reviewing recipes  (and showing some of my own) and sharing the journey of nourishing my family, join up if you like it!

This one's a keeper!


I'm always on the lookout for a good bread recipe. In my travels I've found there are many bad recipes and just a few gems. This one comes under the latter category. It's the Basic No- Knead recipe from "My Bread" by Jim Lahey. His method is like no other I've tried before, though some of the ideas and techniques are the same. I read the whole book as it was so interesting to read about his life leading up to now.


One word. Marvellous!
It's a long process but so worth it. Think delicious, Italian artisan and gourmet. Drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, it is absolutely dreamy. My husband said it tasted like it had been baked in a wood fired oven.
My loaf vanished within hours. 
The only downside would be if you have difficulty chewing a dense crust, it gives the jaws a workout.



Saturday, February 20, 2010

The winner is.........

Drawn by my boy from a bowl of names scribbled on paper as usual. This brought a smile to my face, a very deserving lady, congratulations to......




                            Gilly!

I know where to find you, your doll will be on her way to you (and some eager little hands I imagine!) shortly.

Thanks to everyone else who entered, I have another giveaway coming very soon.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Baby knot doll


The sale of a few dolls lately has allowed me to be a bit adventurous and make up some new designs. This is my first knot doll, you just have to see it and hold it to know how cute it is! There is a little bell inside for a rattle.



I'm so loving this Hilco knit, it's mighty expensive but gorgeous to sew with. I'd love to be able to afford to make the girls some clothes out of it one day, I know it would feel beautiful to wear. This little one is in my Etsy shop now.

Looking back over this week it's a wonder I got anything done at all. The baby has chickenpox (making a good recovery now) and the other 3 came down with bad colds.
There has been a great deal of tomato harvesting and cooking, breadmaking, and a first time success with yoghurt making (I'll share how soon). There has been homeschooling, piano lessons, Ash Wednesday, breastfeeding and piles of nappies and laundry.
And amongst all this I managed some sewing!!

My giveaway ends tomorrow, don't forget!

Until then.....................

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Weight loss

Image from here

I don't usually talk about weight loss here because I think people in general are fairly image obsessed and I don't want to add fuel to the fire. On the other hand, one of the purposes of having this blog is to help and inspire others so.....

I've been working on losing my post baby weight for about 3 months (I was overweight before the pregnancy too). My main goals in the beginning were to feel healthier, have more energy, fit back into old clothes, be fit and to wobble less when I walk - I kid you not!!

So far I've lost 8kg. I walk on a regular basis and am increasing the intensity. I have a lot more energy. Lastnight when I went out for my walk, to my surprise I almost lost my skirt a couple of times it's gotten so big on me!

I'm not one of these people who obsesses and measures everything they eat, how many calories they burn etc. I just think of myself as careful and I believe it's essential to incorporate exercise. So here are my main tips:

* I eat my evening meal fairly early. I allow myself to have dessert if I feel like it (most of the time now I don't because I'm satisfied). Then I don't eat anything for the rest of the evening. Nope, nothing! And by doing this I've realised that when I was eating in the evenings it was only out of habit, not hunger.

* I have gradually cut down the sizes of my meals. My meal sizes were way too big before, and as you lose weight you find you will naturally make your meals smaller because you just don't need so much!

* I don't deny myself anything but everything is in moderation. So I will eat one tim tam and leave it at that, considering it a "treat", not a regular food.

* I believe that weight loss and living healthily is about living more naturally. I can't stand it when I see posters for "meal replacement shakes" everywhere, and I think these companies trick people and play on their emotions. It is not natural to try to fill your stomach without eating properly and eventually your body will need more, leading you into failure. I eat butter, I drink whole cream milk, I eat meat, I eat bread, none of these are bad and are closer to the natural product.

*Be patient! My weight loss has been slow, but every little bit adds up and I feel very positive.

I've been following along with Gilly through her weight loss. If you have a lot to lose, a blog can be a very useful tool for keeping you accountable.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A new Lil' Mim in the shop!


I'm on a roll with my dolls at the moment! This little lady is ready to attend a tea party.
Her cape and shoes are made from a beautiful raspberry hand dyed wool felt. The wool felt is from Winterwood. I made some cute little beaded clips for her hair.



Her hair is made with alpaca yarn, I love it, it's so soft! Her pettiskirt and matching sleeves are a tea party print from Retro Mummy. Her body suit is a navy and aqua spotted knit from Crafty Mamas.



        
                                                    She is in my Etsy shop now.

Monday, February 15, 2010

My dear old Nanna

They don't make them like this anymore!

My Nanna, who is in her early 80's lives in another state so we don't see each other very often.  We do, however,  exchange letters frequently. After sending off my latest letter to her a couple of weeks ago I received a card from her today.
Here is a section of the writing:

"Hope you will be able to read this as I have managed to get shingles on the left side of my face and my eye has completely closed. Things seem to be blurred, but here goes".

She then goes on to tell me of the long anticipated hip operation she has booked for next month, and finishes with:

"Sorry I can't write more, but will again when I feel up to it.


Love Nanna xxxxxx"

Boy, does this make my heart swell! This woman who lost her husband 35 years ago to cancer, has endured cancer and partial bowel removal and other constant health setbacks without complaint, has worked tirelessly for her community and with whom some of my happiest childhood times were spent is an absolute marvel. Such is her care and courtesy in writing me a letter when she is so unwell and she even included a newspaper article she thought would interest me.

God bless her!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A life filled with dolls


I don't know how it all began, this love affair of mine with dolls.
I would be quite content to sit all day and make them, one after the other. If I had that sort of time I would make them all manner of accessories, quilts, clothes and toys.



It's an absolute wonder to me how you can take beautiful pieces of fabric and form and stitch them into something that almost seems to have a personality. I just love them!






My latest Lil' Mim is slightly larger than the last at 12 inches (still petite). She will be in my Etsy shop shortly. I hope she captures someone's heart as quickly as her sister did!



SOLD - THANK YOU AMY!!!!!







Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lil' Mim giveaway!!


Here she is - the first Lil' Mim I made after drawing up her pattern. I'm so darn pleased with my Lil' Mim dolls that I've decided to celebrate by giving this one away. As I've previously mentioned, I plan to put out a pattern for this doll and some cute Lil' Mim stitcheries when I can manage it.

This doll is 10 inches tall, made with cotton tricot and Hilco knit, stuffed with carded wool and her hair is a beautifully soft cashmerino aran. Her hair is styled. Her dress and pettiskirt are removable.

To enter please leave a comment. For an additional entry please blog about this giveaway with a link back to here and mention that you have done so in your comment.

The winner will be drawn randomly on Saturday 20th February.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Second dyed silk blankie



Well, we made it home in one piece, it's funny that you go away "for a break" but for parents of young children there really is no break, just a change of scenery. No matter, the change of scenery was welcome.

So... here is my second silk blanket for daughter aged 4. I find dyeing so captivating, the whole process - from mixing your colours to unveiling the prize at the end.





This time I dyed the flannel backing too, a beautiful lime green which is her favourite colour.

Tomorrow I'll be starting the promised Lil' Mim giveaway so I hope you'll be back to enter!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Lil' Mim


I have a new design and here she is! I created Lil' Mim from a character based on one of my girls. My first thought was to launch a pattern for this type of doll, but I'm coming to accept that I can't always do what I want all the time, in other words - the pattern will have to wait, I don't have the time at present.

Did I mention she's available in my Etsy shop now?



She is a smallish doll at 10 inches, simply because over the years I've discovered I like to make smaller rather than larger dolls.

I will be making a bunch of these in various colours and styles, I really love the pattern and feel it is the most "me" design I've come up with so far.

I have the prototype doll that will feature in a giveaway here next week, she is quite different to this one in her colourings.

My family and I are going away for part of the weekend (hooray, what a treat!!) so I won't be around for a few days.

I hope your days until then are filled with many blessings.

Lil Mim has SOLD - thank you!!


Friday, February 5, 2010

Today is....


Enjoying the cooler weather and baking homegrown zucchini loaves. I must give you the recipe, it's fantastic!



Feeling thankful for the overnight and much needed rain and bountiful harvest from the vegetable garden.



Watching new personalities emerge from lovely dolls.



Roasting and grinding coffee, filling the house with a beautiful caramel scent.



Making another batch of homegrown tomato relish.

I love a cool day after a hot spell.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A successful barter and a whinge!


Remember my post about bartering? Here is what I received in the mail today, thank you Gilly, what a welcome parcel! I don't own many crafting books, so you've just doubled my collection. I just love surprises!

Now for the whinge. I picked up my sewing machine yesterday after it jammed and had to wait a week whilst it was (apparently) repaired. Naturally, I was very eager to use it yesterday, but what with h.schooling starting back today I had a lot to organise. Anyway...... I managed to steal a few moments earlier to work on a skirt, and, lo and behold - it's still jammed!!
This is the point where I had to stem my natural inclination to run to the phone to ask the repairer if there had been a misunderstanding, as in - I give you $80, you give me fixed machine. Yes I appreciate your dusting my machine, after all it was a bit dusty, but I actually wanted to use it not just look at it. Ok, Ok, now I'm getting snitchy, but surely not without justification?!

On a lighter note, our first day back at h.school after the hols' went brilliantly despite a toddler with a tummy upset and it has generally been a very good day.

Off to the sewing centre I go............