Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mid-week catch up

This is what I woke up to this morning. This is hwo it looked outside our windows at about 6.30am. The picture is a bit blurry because I turned off the flash and hand held the camera to try and get the right colour, but you can certainly see the colour. It says on the news that this is the worst dust storm we've had in about 70 years.

The following few pics are really related to the last post, but are a few things that I found I was missing pictures of, so read there for the details.

This is a close up of the king parrot that I felted for the birthday ring (and maybe to be moved to our nature table when the birthday ring has been put away).

This is the birthday ring with the flowers in the vases - just because it looks so cute with them added too.
This pic shows our nature table as it is now - it's a work in progress with some things just there for the moment until I get it done properly. Last post I only had closeups of the birds.
This is a closeup of the birthday cake decoration girl. And it is worth saying again here - I did get the idea from various ones for sale on etsy, and it is very similar. I was going to link to the person who makes them there, and say to buy one from that store if you want one, but this one is a combination of inspiration taken from a few of them with a few differences too. If you feel that I've copied your doll, let me know and I'll either link to you so that you can get some business from it, or take my picture down. Mine is certainly lacking some of the lovely details of the ones on etsy, such as things the cake topper girls there are holding, etc.

Okay, that's enough of the pics that should have been in the last post. Here is some other stuff.
Ages ago I put in pics of an embroider and some screen printed fabric that were to become my bag. I finished the bag in about June, but never put in pics of it, so here they are, although the bag is getting quite grubby now and really needs a wash.

Decided to get back to a routine of reading to all the kids together before bed as I'd let that slip and just read individually to them. I wanted to start on something like a chapter book rather then picture books and decided to go with fairy tales and classics. The kids have been loving it. These are the books we've been using.
The first is probably my least favourite of the three, although still good. It is one from when I was little.

And a shot from an inside page ...

This one I love. It is also from when I was little. It's quite short though.

The pictures are so lovely ...

And the final one is a newer purchase ... Rapunzel and Other Magic Fairytales (because it is a newer one I could put it as a link - don't think the others would still be available, although I haven't searched). I love this one.
Rapunzel and Other Magic Fairytales

When I get time I'll have to list the big pile of books beside my bed for my reading.
This is a recent craft that the kids did. I got the idea from someone's blog that I visited, but I can't remember whose. If it is yours, please let me know and I'll link it.
They're garden prayer flags. Using fabric crayons on calico, the kids drew pictures of things that they wanted for the garden - to help it grow. They worked out what to draw. I just ironed them, put a rolled hem around the edge and quickly sewed them onto fabric tape. They're now hung in our garden. The idea is that you can't pray all the time, so with prayer flags you can send your constant prayers with the wind. Without getting into a religious discussion here, I think the concept of prayer flags works with just about any belief - in a God or whatever god you believe in, even if you just believe in the power of positive thinking!

And finally, I want to post here about a giveaway. Of course, by posting in my blog I get extra entries, but I want to tell you how much I love these products anyway. We have some stockmar crayons (not this nice double set) and I wont go back to supermarket crayons now. I love them. Great colours and I'm much happier for the children to use them. I think it is good for children to have good quality art supplies too. And they really look after them a lot more.
So here is the link - it's a giveaway ... you can look for yourself ... its on the Hip Mountain Mama blog.
That's all for now.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Needle felting and a birthday ring

Here is my first go at needle felting. It is from a kit that I bought from woolhandcrafts etsy store. I love needles felting and want to try heaps of other stuff - lots of needle felting books now on my Fishpond wishlist.

My one yr old's first birthday present for the year - a sand pit. Now placed near our veggie garden so she can play while I get busy.

This is a project that has occupied my mind for the past few weeks - my version of a birthday ring. The rings are expensive to buy in Australia, and I didn't get myself organised in time to get one from overseas (and of course, I liked the idea of DIY), so I got out a jigsaw that I've had for a while but never used, bought a $10 piece of pine from the hardware store, and worked out how to cut a circle out of it. I didn't bother with a ring - just a circle. Filed and sanded it for AGES, and ached all the next day from this process actually. Polished it afterwards with a beeswax/lavender polish. I'm very pleased with the result. I might try and do a bigger one for next time though just to spread everything out a little bit.

Then it took a while for me to work out what to put in it. I wanted to make something, but my wood working skills weren't really up to cutting little shapes out of timber (like the ones that are often for sale), and I didn't have time to sew lots of complicated little gnomes, and besides, I needed something where I knew what I was doing. Solution ... peg dolls!

I kept most things related to the time of year (spring here) or her birth month - September.

I don't seem to have a picture of the ring with flowers in the vases (there are two of them), so here it is without. The vases had lavender and the tiny daisies from my garden. It also had a bought number 1 and one candle.

There isn't an individual picture of the bird (the pics were all out of focus). It is a King Parrot - because I saw one around recently, and also because I felt there should be a bird of some sort to represent Spring.

There also isn't a separate picture of the little message stand - I just made it out of wire and put a little "I love you" note in it.

This yellow fairy is a wattle fairy. Wattle day here is (I think) 1 September, and there is generally wattle everywhere in September.

The blue fairy is a Sapphire Fairy - for her birthstone.

The brown and yellow fairy is a Boronia Fairy - Boronia is the Australian Native Birth Flower for September.

The red fairy is a Strawberry Fairy. Strawberries are just starting to be really nice, and my one year old really loves them too.

This green fairy is a snow/sugar snap pea fairy - because the Sugar Snaps and Snow peas are doing nicely in the garden and ready to start picking. And my daughter loves vegetables. (She's only one, after all!)

This is a felted butterfly, again just as a representative of all insects - for Spring time.

This doll is her main birthday present from us (her family). It is a 16 inch doll but actually I meant to make her a 13 inch one, which is what her sister has, but I forgot that her sister's was 13 inches and didn't realise how much bigger this one was until I was stuffing it. I just kept thinking "this looks a bit big". How silly. Anyway, it is nice anyway, and I hope she'll end up playing with it and cuddling it. I ruffled the skirt up a bit at the front just for this photo to show the pants and underskirt.

This is the birthday cake. Is is a vegan chocolate cake - super quick and easy to make and tastes good. I just put sprinkles on it and then added a cake topper that I'd made. I love the idea of a cake topper like this that can be reused, because we end up celebrating each birthday a few times with various family and friends and I can just make a really quick cake and add this, and it looks good!
So this cake topper is definitely not my own idea. There are lots of similar ones for sale on etsy - just search "cake topper peg doll" or something like that. I just looked because I wanted to see how closely mine was a copy of the ones there, and it is very very similar, but there are lots of them that are very very similar all sold by different people, so I don't know whose I looked at, but I certainly don't want to claim it as my own idea. The ones sold through etsy are nicer - much more detail and nice little additions.
The ones for sale have nice painted platforms to stand on. I did paint a platform, but actually ended up not using it. I was worried even with layers of varnish about putting the platform straight on the icing (not being a hard icing) - not so much for the effect on the dolls, but incase something contaminated the cake. So I found some nice gold jam jar lids and put the doll on one and the number one on the other. I just attached them with double sided tape so that they could be easily removed and changed (eg to number 2 for next year!) or washed (the lid, not the doll). I was pleased with how this worked out, although would have preferred one larger lid.
I had the tiny fairy candle for ages, so used it even though it didn't really go with the rest of the decoration (being way to small) - and see, the wax has dripped onto the cake too.

This is the start of my first attempt at having something of a nature table. I haven't had time to do much, but had cleared the space and was having extended family over for birthday celebrations, so it had to have something on it. So far it has two little nests of felted birds, a little flower fairy in the branch - that my oldest daughter made, a rainbow painting in the background, a sun stacking arch toy and a candle. It looks quite nice, and surprisingly doesn't look strangely sparse, although there is heaps of room for more. I like the idea of mother earth and the root children actually, but I'm not sure if I'll get to it before the end of spring (the children need too many clothes to be sewn), so I might just add a vase or two and keep getting the kids to bring in flowers from the garden.

Anyway, here is my second go at needle felting - a nest of three tiny birds. And can you see at the edge of the pic that I made a tiny egg for my original blue bird?

Finally, thought I'd add in a pic of our newly rearranged toy corner. This is just the toddler/baby area really although the older kids play there too of course. I've been looking at how other people arrange their play areas, and thought I'd change around ours. It's nothing fancy and I didn't have $$ to spend on special shelving or anything (these were a bargain from my lovely neighbour's garage sale - do you notice that I always call them/her "my lovely neighbour? Their moving in the next week which will make things very different around here.)

Before I just had a couple of baskets with things all put in together. I found that all sorts of things were ending up in the baskets, and of course, lots of nice things weren't being played with because they ended up right at the bottom. Surprisingly this system seems easier to tidy too.

Birthday season around here, and lots of garden pics

I'll start trying to add in links to books that I use for patterns etc - I love it when I find a good book via someone else's blog, so I should make the effort too.

This is the first birthday crown that I've made - based on the one in the book The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections. It's for my oldest daughter. Wasn't sure if she'd be interested in starting a birthday crown tradition at this stage, but she loved it!
I wanted to add some more traditions to our lives, starting with their birthdays, as I always feel so rushed on their birthdays (particularly on their party days - getting ready for a party and/or visitors) and I felt that with a few nice traditions it would make the day more special and make us all slow down for at least part of the day!
On their birthdays they get to take cupcakes or similar to school to share with the class. Typical of my daughter, she didn't want cupcakes, but chose biscuits instead. Half choc chip biscuits, and half anzac slice. Both are vegan. The place where I use to buy my vegan choc chips closed down so I chopped up a block of choc instead. I'm fussy about choc so it is also organic (couldn't get fair trade, but tried) - I avoid buying chocolate that might come from cocoa that has been grown at a plantation that has child slaves.
My choc chip cookie recipe is from this book: Vive Le Vegan!: Simple, Delectable Recipes for the Everyday Vegan Family, by Dreena Burton. They are really good choc chip cookies. I make them all the time.
My daughter wore this outfit recently, although I sewed it up last summer. Wasn't sure if I'd put in pics already. Love how it looks on her. I only wish I had one similar! Both top and skirt are from Ottobre patterns.

This is her modelling an apron that I made for a friend of hers - for a birthday present. Simple style.

Made her a new tee - plain white, to go with her dalmation pants for a disco party for another of her friends. She badly needs more of the basics at the moment like tees - growing too fast. I'm only giving myself tonight off to do some blog catch up, then sewing full steam ahead to fill up the kids' summer wardrobes. They are currently seriously lacking things that fit them well.

And have I ever shown you the dalmation pants? I love these. A pattern from Ottobre of course, but any plain jeans pattern would do.

Not trying to show you anything homemade here (although I did make the top - hemp/org cotton, fibre reactive dyes; and the pants - from a thrift shop jumper), but I just love this pic. So fun to watch a bub with a balloon. I think this was the first hellium balloon she'd played with.

And now, onto some garden pics. There are heaps of them and I wont say much about them, but please make sure you get to the end, as there is a cute baby pic there!
By the way, this veg garden is our front yard. The back is full of fruit trees (still too young to be baring fruit). Haven't taken pics there yet.
Snow peas and sugar snap peas.

Love the look of the new peas "hatching" - with their cute little flower hats.

A few strawberry plants - will have to get a lot more of these in.

Some Giant Russian Garlic - love this variety. Not much here, but it just came up from cloves I accidentally left in from last year. There is a little of the smaller garlic too, but no pics of that.

A baby blueberry tree. There are three of them - with flowers on them already. Wonder if that means there will be a berry or two???

Some lettuce - there's heaps more of this, and actually, I took these pics a couple of weeks ago and it's grown a lot since then.

Spinach. I have masses of this and really need to get picking and make a few spinach pies. I made spinach frittata for dinner tonight and actually used frozen spinach - completely forgot about the lovely fresh, organic stuff growing in the garden. Hmmm ... might have to make it again in a couple of days!

Nasturtiums, parsley and weeds - growing under the lemon tree - just looking after themselves really. I try to encourage nasturtiums to pop up everywhere for a bit of protection for the veggies. And I end up with masses of parsley by the time summer hits - it self seeds and I can't bring myself to pull it out.

Potatoes - there are quite a few of these popping up from potatoes left in the ground from last year's planting. Which reminds me that I did buy some more seed potatoes and should get time in quickly. Adding that to me "to do" list now.

New Zealand Spinach. You might have seen this growing wild. I have it in because I don't have to do anything to look after it and it comes up. If food prices go too crazy, at least we'll be able to live on New Zealand spinach and parsley!

This is actually the most sparse part of this garden bed - not sure why I put in this pic and not another one, but you can see some silver beet and broccoli here. Also in the bed is cauli, cabbage, lots more silverbeet and all the spinach. I've tucked in a few other things too - just added one capsicum plant and a couple of rhubarb plants - that looked as though they were about to die in the pot, so not sure how they'll do. I put them in this bed because there is a section that seems to just flourish, and I wanted to give them the best chance.
This bed had potatoes last year, grown using Peter Cundall's method from his Organic Gardening DVD (which is excellent). Now, it is such a healthy garden.

The lemon tree is flowering madly.

A cabbage from the above-discussed bed.

Just some flowers. I thought they looked nice. I don't put much effort into decorative plants, but am trying to do a bit more to make things look nice.

Ahhh ... now back to birthday stuff - the crown I made for my youngest daughter's first birthday. Isn't she cute?

And her birthday cake - the first of a few (by the time we have the various gatherings with various people). This is just a plain sponge cake - not my favourite (although very nice), but her dad's favourite. I know the sprinkles and the strawberries don't really go that well, but the strawberries were completely necessary, and I had to add pink sprinkles when she was being such a pink girl that day. The sprinkles were very sparkly ones - called "Fairy Dust".

More of her birthday in the next post.