Sunday, July 24, 2011

Flower inspirations


Perhaps it is the time of year and the lack of blooms that make flowers so attractive to me at the moment. Or perhaps it's the perusal of wonderful Rachel Ashwell books featuring marvellous roses, even reading of Tonya Todman's heritage rose farm is terribly exciting!
The other thing I've been delving into is my silk supply and silk paints. I'm working on fashioning blooms and these ones have been used for hair accessories for my long haired girls. I'm pleased with the results but now need to work on presenting the flowers in a more tidy fashion ie. the backs don't look nearly as nice as the fronts! I do so like the hand painted ones.
What do you think?


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Birthdays and sunshine

July is the month of birthdays in our family, with 4 out of the 6 of us celebrating. This means I spend a lot of July in the kitchen, but is there a more perfect time of year than Winter to be baking?


A 2 year old girl must have heart cookies!


Mmmm!




Red velvet cake recipe from Joy of Baking (I dare you to go to that website and avoid drooling all over your keyboard!) I used whipped cream and buttercream frosting instead of the traditional cream cheese frosting. A little hint - next time I'll decorate with cream and buttercream frosting the day before, it was much better on the second day.


I even found time to sew and dye at top for myself, what a rare occurence! I won the Ottobre women's top pattern from the Crafty Mamas blog. Highly recommend - excellent pattern!



So after all the fun and excitement of games like being dragged through the house on a quilt by a mother  
who is feeling very unfit, this little princess conked out early and missed her own birthday dinner! 


Thanks for reading along, bye for now:)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The trouble with being an artist, no.1



The idea of being an artist and making a living from what you do is very liberating is it not? You spend your days creating and people pay handsomely to possess your works. Really! I've seen it in movies!

The reality for most is quite different. When I was making dolls about 90% of sales were custom orders. Customers wanted dolls to look like their daughters, movie characters etc. They wanted to choose the colour and type of hair, the clothing style, the fabric, everything. Not a lot of artistic freedom in that. It also meant that for most orders I had to go out of my way to source materials which left me further out of pocket  from the meager wage I received for making the doll.

File:Angelo Trezzini - A Tired Seamstress.jpg

A Tired Seamstress by Angelo Trezzini image source

As my skills progress and change I feel less and less inclined to make things to other people's specifications. The result? An Etsy shop full of creations I love and nobody wants to buy. This year I have made a grand total of $30. What is the answer here? Try to be popular by making what other people like and will buy? Or keep making what I like and accept that I'll never make a living (or even pocket money) from doing this?

Stay tuned - more thoughts to come. I'd love to hear your thoughts :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My bread

I'm often asked about the bread I make and I'm more than happy to share my loose recipe (from my head!) and methods. My bread is a culmination of trying a myriad of recipes over the years and finding that this way is the fastest, easiest and tastiest way to make good bread. I make all of our family loaves now and this is how:


These quantities will give you 2 small loaves.

1 cup wholemeal plain flour
3 cups unbleached plain flour (I use Wallaby)
1 tablespoon dried yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1& 1/2 tablespoons sugar (honey can also be used)
2 cups warm water
extra flour

I use the mixmaster with dough hooks because I have trouble with my wrists, but it can be mixed by hand also, which is what I used to do.
Place all dry ingredients in bowl and add water. Mix until you have a uniform wet and sticky dough. Now add the extra flour (usually 1/2 to 1 cup) and mix in. You want your dough at this point to be still a little sticky. Turn out onto a floured area and knead lightly. This part is not absolutely necessary but I find it gives me a better feel for how the dough should feel and how it will perform. I also just like the feel of it on my hands!
Oil your bowl lightly on the bottom and sides. Place dough back in and rub a little oil on top. Cover with gladwrap. Leave for 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your room temperature. When the dough has increased to twice it's size remove from the bowl and knead lightly. Cut in half with a serrated knife and shape each piece into a rough ball or oblong loaf.
Place a dish of cool water in the bottom of the oven. Grease a biscuit tray and place both loaves (or you can use 2 trays if you wish). Slash the loaves 3 times on top with the serrated knife and sprinkle a little flour on top if you like the look.
Place tray in oven and turn on to 210 degrees celscius. That's right - I don't preheat!
On the top rack of the oven your loaf should be done in 30 minutes - you basically want it looking nice and brown and crusty.
Remove from oven and cool on a backing rack. If, like my family, you cannot resist the amazing aroma, just cut and eat with butter while it's hot!
These loaves freeze very well. I make 4 at a time so I don't have to bake every day.

If you try my recipe let me know what you think. Enjoy!



Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Maisy quilt


With the birthday being tomorrow I've finished just in the nick of time. This was one of my longest projects and admittedly, if it's long, it may not get finished. But having a little nose over your shoulder asking when it's going to be ready is a good motivation.


I initially planned a lot more hand embroidery, but realistically it was going to take too long.


I love how the free motion quilting on the borders turned out. The bulk of the quilt is stippled.


Cute?


Have you seen the Leah Day tutorials on free motion quilting on Youtube? So very, very helpful!


I allowed the birthday girl to choose the flannel backing. What else does a 3 about to be 4 year old girl choose but pink fairies?

The matching cushion may not be finished, but considering I spent hours lastnight at the local hospital emergency department with a post fall, head injured, concussed and vomiting five year old I think I'm off the hook.
She's fine, by the way - God answered my prayers yet again and she is her chirpy old self today.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hi


Another busy week with plenty of secret and somewhat frantic sewing. One of our girls was born on my husband's birthday almost 4 years ago, so we have a double celebration next week.

My husband loved hand puppets as a kid and has been hounding asking me for years to make him one.


As I have no such affinity with puppets I got on my high horse and said I wasn't interested in making puppets, which only pressed the issue further, my husband being of the somewhat stubborn and mildly eccentric persuasion.
Enough of that. I have made him not one but two hand puppets, and what do you know, I really enjoyed making them and will likely make more. Can't wait to give them to him. Pattern from Planet Puppet.


Some little Mary Janes for a cousin's new baby.


One of my favourite flowers - the jonquil. They take me right back to my impoverished uni days when a winter treat was to buy a couple of cheap bunches of jonquils on Sydney Road and fill my tiny little flat with their heady scent.


These two are thick as thieves and spend most of their time together now. Miss G has taken up facepainting and is always looking for a willing subject or two. She has a real creative flair.


And when not facepainting they can be found at a posh tea party where one must wear floral dresses, posh hats and use their "lady" manners!


I was sent a silver bezel, among other goodies as a kindly gift from Kerrie at Jackobindi. I cut out a little circle of fabric and sealed it with mod podge, then poured clear resin on top. Cute huh?

Apart from these, and many other goings on I have been dreaming and drooling over the Harkaway Homes Catalogue. Hope springs eternal!

Have a great weekend, God bless.