Friday, December 31, 2010

Cookie Heaven

I just wanted to throw in a quick little post here about the most amazing cookie recipe that I just found on one of my favourite blogs - Passionate Homemaking.

It's meant to be a cranberry and orange recipe, but I used raspberries, because I couldn't find any cranberries. It works just as well, if not better!!

You can find this fantastic recipe right here.

Happy baking!


Cafe Crocheting - A "Lost Art"

This morning I had breakfast in our local cafe with my mum and dad. We sat outside - because it was a beautiful and sunny day, which is rare here - and mum and I instantly pulled out the crochet projects. Dad, of course, pulled out a Tom Clancy book.

As we were sitting there working on our little projects, a woman rushed past us, heading towards another little shop. As she looked over, she saw what we were doing, stopped, and smiled.

"You and I are the last," she said. "Crochet is a lost art!"

Sadly, that has been the case, but only up to the last few years. It seems like crochet, knitting, and all manner of wonderful crafts are making a come-back! The joy of sitting in a public setting with one's project has been rekindled, and I'm seeing more and more people show interest in what had been given up as lost.

In my family, not only do we just create, but we tell people about it as well. Mum and I are both constantly on our computers blogging about something we've seen, or something we've made, or wishing that we'd thought of that brilliant idea first. It's entertaining to see us though, because wherever we are, we're usually both arranging the tableware so as to get the best picture for our sites.

It makes me happy to think that when I'm out and I have my crochet with me, I'm inspiring the people around me to get back into something that is not only practical, but beautiful and entertaining.

To those that are already "taking it to the streets" with your wool, needles or fabric, well done! You inspire the people around you to create! To those of you not there yet, I encourage you to get into something creative, even if it's french-knitting using an empty toilet roll with paddle-pop sticks taped to the outside. You probably don't realise how much fun you'll have!!

Happy (insert your form of creative-ness here)!


New Years Resolutions

It's New Year's Eve, and I'm currently thinking about what the new year holds. My family has a tradition that every year on New Year's Day, we have a family lunch, and then we open an envelope which contains the previous year's resolutions. We read them out, and talk about how we think we went with them. After that, we'll write new resolutions, sealing them in a new envelope to open a year later.

It's a really lovely tradition, but I always find it hard to think of the resolutions. Normally it's things like "lose lots of weight", "be very healthy", "always have a tidy house" and other such things.

Today my family and I completely cleaned the house, did the washing, and painted our front door a new colour, all for a fresh start for the new year. I think it's important to see each opportunity to start over, so every resolution that I failed last year, I'll try and achieve in the next. Realistic goals are the key, and remembering that if you fall short of your goal one day, you can always pick it up the next.

Good luck with your resolutions, I hope that you've achieved what you set out last year, and that the new year holds something shiny and exciting for you.


The Christmas Slowdown

So as one would expect, over Christmas, the time for blogging seems to decrease, while the inspiration to blog increases. This has definitely been the case for me, as I've been so inspired by all of the things I've seen and done over Christmas, but I've not only had no time for blogging, I've had no internet connection to do it on.

This, then, is my Christmas catch-up, and it's rather full.

Christmas was a really lovely time for my family this year. We traveled down to my grandmother's house in Victoria, and my mother's sisters brought their families as well. As lovely as that was, however, there's only so much screaming from a baby that I can handle!

My grandmother is a master knitter, crocheter and most other things in the woolen family. Most afternoons, then, were spent in her living room with five women crocheting while watching Bread on the tv.

I know that Christmas isn't really about the presents, but my parents bought me the most wonderful thing this year - a huge collection of the most beautifully coloured wool, crochet needles, sewing needles, pins and lots of other little pretty things. I had just the one crochet project when I left home, and I've come back with at least 4!

I started out with my granny squares for a baby blanket, and I'm pleased to report I'm half-way there on that one. Next came the paper-chain scarf that might head more in the direction of bunting (it depends on how I feel when it gets to scarf length), then there's the chevron cushion cover, and then the chevron arm-warmers slash fingerless gloves.

I've only been a crocheter for about a month now, so being able to spend the time with my grandma, my mother and my aunts was perfect opportunity for learning new patterns.

The paper chain scarf was a bit of a challenge, because of the working round and round in circles. It looked great in the end, but it was a lot of concentration on my behalf to get it to look that straight! Because of my lack of concentration, I'd switched projects before I'd gotten very far, so that's why it's only long enough to be modeled by a bear... Also, I've not learned to sew in my ends yet, so it still looks a tad messy.

Next came the introduction into the world of chevron patterns. This happened because my mum (see her blog - Teacups and Tiskets - here) was starting a knee rug with chevron stripes. I of course had to start it immediately, so I went with something easy - a cushion cover. I loved the colours so much that it seemed like a brilliant idea to make some arm warmers in the same style. I haven't sewn them up yet, but I'll post some pictures of them when I do. For now it's just the cushion panels wrapped around my wrist :D

I think that's pretty much it for the Christmas catch-up. I'm sure there'll be lots more to talk about as the weeks go by. I'm going to New Zealand next week, so I'll take my camera and get some more inspiration while I'm there!

I'll leave you with a few photos of what my Christmas was like :D

Dad's awesome pavlova skills

Nothing better than a tiny child who's excited by Christmas :D

Of course, while driving I had to use my Hipstamatic application to take some landscape shots!

You can be sure that you'll meet some interesting people while roadtripping. Their burgers were pretty good too.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Classy Babies going for the Suit Up

I was flicking through pages on the other day when I found this amazing page - it's got to be one of the cutest things I've ever seen in my life!

Whoever is designing these sweet little applique outfits has hit the jackpot! There's nothing cuter than a classy baby, especially like the little Christmas outfit above.

You can find this wonderful little outfit, plus many more, at Kmcgriff's etsy shop.

Happy buying!


The Public Crochet-er

So this morning my parentals and I went out for what I will loosely label as "brunch". We had a long-winded discussion over the classifications of meals and whether one can actually go out for breakfast when one has already had toast at home. Needless to say, they had bacon and eggs while I stuck with the ol' faithful nachos.

Obviously, meal times and the rules that contain them are not the subject of this post. What I'm actually writing about here is a new experience for me, that occurred while out for this so-called "brunch".

Yes, that's right - today I become a Public Crochet-er. I, for the first time in my life, I took my crochet project to the cafe and worked on some granny squares. Ma has been on the forefront of Public Crocheting for a while now, but it's taken me a little longer to get around to it. '

I found the entire experience rather liberating, actually. I don't have any problem at all with people knowing that I crochet, but I've always felt a little weird about people watching me, in case they can do it better than me and then criticise my tension or something like that.

Today, however, I worked with a new attitude - I crochet, and I'm proud of it!!

I'm not sure how Dad felt about the entire experience. He seemed pretty happy with his book, but on the inside I'm sure he secretly wanted to join in.

So there you have it - the first of many crochet-related outings. Hopefully not the last!


Friday, December 17, 2010

My Hipstamatic Camera

By the way, just as a side note, most of the pictures that appear on my blog are taken with my Hipstamatic application on my iPhone. I absolutely adore it, because it gives you the options of different flashes, different lenses, and even different film.

They (the designers, whoever they are) model the different options on already existing flashes, lenses and films that you can use on a real camera. My current favourite combination would be a Roboto Glitter lens, a kodot XGrizzled film, and a RedEye Gel flash. Here is an example of what that one looks like, featuring my lovely assistant Izzy. In this particular photo, she's getting into the Christmas spirit:

I have also been playing around with the Bettie XL lens and DreamCanvas film. This example isn't using a flash, because it was pretty bright outside. It's the view from the french doors in my room onto the verandah outside:

I'll occasionally post some new prints as I take them. Some of them turn out quite wondefully, while others of them look a bit rubbish... Oh well, persistence is key!


Christmas Cards!

So I've never been one for sending Christmas cards, but this year I was a little inspired, so I decided to make some. I used buttons, thread, scrapbooking paper, and watercolour diary paper. I was rather pleased, to say the least :D

Here's an example of a few designs I made:

I'd at this point like to give a little shout out to my trust Artline black marker. What would we do without them?!

My friend Jordy also made some cards this year, taking his design from our origami phase that started a little earlier this year (I have a box full of a hundred or so paper cranes in black, red and white that he sent me for Christmas). This is the second time that Jord has become what I like to call a "blogebrity" because someone has posted a picture of his cards:

Hooray for Christmas cards! Anyone else been making their own?


Blankets of a Tiny Nature

This is my first attempt at a crochet blanket. I'm having a world of fun figuring out tension and stitches and all that sort of junk, but it's paying off, because now I have the makings of a very cute baby blanket. I am yet to learn how to sew in the ends, but Mum promised to teach me, so I'll get it eventually!

I've got a handful of friends that are currently expecting brand new tiny little babies, and I'm sure one of them has to be a girl! I figured that I needed a project if I was seriously going to learn how to crochet, and with so many pregnant women, what better to do than make baby shower presents?

I think there's something really special about receiving something handmade for an occasion such as this, especially seeing as it's so uncommon because the shop is easier and much less time-consuming. I think I'm going to make a basket full of baby-sized projects so that I've always got something ready.

I'll put up another picture as soon as it resembles a blanket, but I was so proud of my efforts that I had to show someone!


Ransom The Owl

This little guy was my second attempt at stitching a stuffed toy. I'd show you some photos of the first, but they're on their way to other people's houses in an effort to produce a little handmade Christmas joy :D

His name is Ransom, after one of my favourite book characters. He has a little owl-partner named Divine, but unfortunately I can't show you him, because he's also somewhere in the hands of Australia Post.

I originally saw the design in a beautiful little homewares store in Dee Why (My Favourite Things - if you're in Sydney, check it out, they have an amazing arm chair) and thought that I should give it a go, to get the sewing practice started.

I'm really quite pleased with myself for this one, especially seeing as the materials cost me less than $5. I thought that was a good effort!


Martinis and High-Heels

I've always wanted to be a 1950's housewife. There's nothing classier, it seems to me, than a woman who can keep an immaculate yet comfy house, sew things, bake for the children, have a meal on the table for her husband when he comes home, and do the entire lot with a smile, a beautiful dress and a very well made martini in her hand.

In an effort to become more like the dream woman, I've pulled out the sewing machine, the stamp collection and a heck of a lot of tea. In a way, this blog is to both show other people what I manage to come up with, but also to motivate myself to actually get something done!

So here it is, my millionth attempt at blogging and my first attempt at being classy!

Happy reading :D (Or should I say, 'happy martinis'?!)