Nov 26, 2010

A mixed up day…

Well, I got a very fresh wake up this morning… as I pottered about getting the girls breakfast ready (still in my pyjamas mind you)I went to use the cold water tap. Much to my surprise the tap came off in my hand! Now this alone wouldn’t have caused me too much concern BUT as the handle had come off and the pipe was open water began spraying out of the wall where the tap once was! It went EVERYWHERE!
So I pity the poor neighbours, were they unfortunate enough to see me burst from the house, looking like a drowned rat in ever so stylish pink pyjamas and barefoot as I raced to the water main tap out near the street side to turn the water off!
So, what was meant to be a nice relaxing morning turned into quite a time mopping up all the water (which thankfully was contained to just the kitchen area). Luckily, Mr D (husband) was home from his shift work and was able to fix the problem (because as handy as I like to think I am I wouldn’t know where to start to put the tap back on) . The only problem now is I’m more than a little afraid to use the tap because I’m paranoid it will happen again and one impromptu shower and floor mopping session is more than enough for one day!
Well, onto other things… Here’s a photo of the sling I made last night. I put my Little little Miss M in it (she still loves to be carried in one from time to time).
Might have to make up a couple more to use up the fabric I have left… maybe it will inspire me to get my ebay selling back in gear!
Oh…. and this is the recipe for my Christmas cake.
Fruit & Nuts (alternative measure is 250g of each of the fruits and candied peel)
1 cup pitted dates
1 1/2 cups candied citrus peel
¾ cup pitted dates
¾ cup dried apricots
¾ cup dried figs
¾ cup glace cherries
¾ cup glace pineapple
½ cup crystallized ginger
1 cup each of seedless raisins, sultanas & currants
½ cup each of walnuts, pecans, almonds
¼ cup each of brazil nuts & hazelnuts
2tsp each of nutmeg, cinnamon & allspice

Alcohol to soak all the fruit and nuts:
1 cup orange liqueur (Grand Marnier or Cointreau)
1 cup brandy

Coarsely chop the dates, apricots, figs, cherries, and ginger then add candied citrus peels. Place in a large bowl or other suitable container, and stir in the raisins, currants, orange liqueur, and cognac and nutmeg, cinnamon & allspice. Cover and set aside in a fridge for up to a week, stirring each day to get it all nice and alcohol drenched.
A week later:
1 ½ cups flour
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
2 tbsp. finely ground espresso roast coffee
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. ground mace
2/3 cup golden syrup or molasses
250g butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (540g) dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5 large eggs
Good-quality bourbon/brandy or rum for dredging….

Grease cake pan well and line the bottom with baking paper and set oven to approx. 150C (low temp cause slow cooking time required).
Using a whisk, combine the flour, cocoa, coffee, baking powder, salt, and spices in a medium bowl, and set aside.
In separate bowl beat the butter until creamy, then add sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy and then add vanilla. Beat in the eggs one or two at a time, blending the batter fully before adding the next egg(s).
Beat in the dry ingredients, alternating with the syrup or molasses (grease the cup that you measure the syrup in cause this keeps it from sticking and allows it to pour out cleanly) in three parts each. Scrape down the bowl and beaters and beat a little longer to be sure everything is well-blended. The mixture may look a little curdled, especially if the butter was very soft to start with.
Scrape the batter into the bowl with the fruit and nuts, and use a large rubber spatula to stir and combine the various elements. It's a very heavy, sticky batter, and will take some time and muscle to thoroughly blend it.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, pressing with the back of the spoon to fill the corners. Fill the pan all the way, even with the top. The batter will only expand slightly with baking, and won't spill over the top.
Bake the cake until set in the middle (test with a skewer into the middle which should come out pretty clean). Cooking time is approximately 3 ½ hours or so but its best to be guided by the skewer test – if cake is still not cooked but getting a little too dark (starting to burn on top) place a sheet of foil or baking paper loosely over the cake to prevent burning.
When cooked let cool for 20minutes before turning onto a wire rack. Brush cake generously with bourbon or rum (I prefer to pierce the prior to brushing cake all over with a skewer and then drizzle with the alcohol)
Once the cake is completely cooled, wrap in plastic wrap and then foil and refrigerate. Brush with a tablespoon or two of bourbon (or drizzle with a couple of capfuls) every day or two for the next week or so until you’re ready to decorate or eat!
REALLY LABOUR AND INGREDIENT INTENSIVE… but trust me if you like fruit cake it is worth it – and if you don’t like fruitcake be prepared to be converted!

Sorry for the lengthy post but the cake truly is worth it… I’m salivating as I type!!!
Cheers Smile

Freezer paper for labels…

Just a really quick one for now (it’s 12.30am here in Australia) and I’ll add a little more later today (I was going to say tomorrow but yep, it’s already today!).
Using a great video tutorial from “Crafty Gemini” which you can find here I made up my first label using freezer paper and my home inkjet printer. I have never used freezer paper before as it is not as readily available in Australia.
I found that Spotlight stocks it but you have to ask at the fabric counter as its not on display anywhere in the store. It was a couple of dollars a meter (can’t quite remember exactly but next time I go I’ll re-check).
I did only a couple of things different to the video tutorial because I found it easier.
Instead of attaching the freezer paper to the regular printer paper with glue I left that step out and just ironed my fabric onto the freezer paper (remembering to place it shiny side down on the ironing board).
Then because I didn’t have any glue on hand (I have some somewhere but do you think I could find it?) I just used a small amount of sticky tape on the corners of the freezer paper (as pictured) to attach it to the printer paper (after ironing on the fabric).
*Excuse the little dusty looking pieces of lint – the freezer paper picked them up off my ironing board!!!
But other than that I pretty much stuck to the tutorial.
This tag was for the baby sling I mentioned in an earlier post. I made it tonight (later than I anticipated but I had a pre-school committee meeting to go to earlier tonight) and here’s a picture of the finished tag all sewn on but I’ll have to wait till the morning to get a photo of the sling with a bubba in it Smile.
For now though its time to get some sleep (its getting close to 1am and Little little Miss M will be up at 6.15am like clockwork!)

Nov 24, 2010

Looking back at last Christmas' handmade dresses and a little extra...

I cannot believe how quickly Christmas has snuck up on me… only 31 days away!
Last year I think I was so much more organised and industrious. I had the girls Christmas dresses made plus had a number of hand made toddler and girls dress and shoe sets for sale in a local crafty store on consignment.
Here are a few of last years dresses…
Hmmm… I’m still hopeful I’ll get SOME Christmas sewing done this year but in a moment of madness a few months ago I felt I needed to be doing more with my mind and I enrolled with a full time study load at University to study via distance. So, over the next week and a half I have some big-ish exams. But never-the-less I am still hopeful.
Although, that does remind me, I still have a custom made Dex Hamilton costume to get started on… and a baby sling for one of my mothers group mums who just had a little bubba. BUSY BUSY!
sling pic
AND that’s not to mention the Christmas shopping at some stage – it only feels like a week or two since the July sales and I was thinking it would be nice to get ALL the gift shopping done early… oh well, maybe next year I’ll be more organised (soon, you will all see that the bane of my existence is my lack of organisation – I can and am often organised but it is seriously hard work!!!).
I was really hoping that I would have my ebay store back up and running but it’s going to have to wait a week or two… Besides I think it might take that long to get my head around HTML code which after much resitance I've decided to finally learn a little about.
Till next time Smile
Oh... The Christmas cake... another thing I really have to get onto right away. I might post the recipe here tomorrow - its my FAVOURITE - my mouth is watering just thinking about it...

Nov 22, 2010

Lacking organisation...

I really, really need to get organised and declutter... the girls have too many clothes, too many toys and waaaaaaaay too many shoes (hmmm and I haven't even looked in my closet yet). Well, mostly it's my hoarding self retaining everything that the girls have grown out of.

(I wont tell my darling husband - although truthfully he knows this - I keep it all because of the hope I have for another little precious pumpkin to complete our family... I've often heard other women say they just knew when they were 'done' so to speak with 'baby making' and I just haven't had that feeling. Its kind of strange but I just feel like I am meant feel that unexplainable miracle of holding another newborn in my arms at least one more time - it makes me gushy just thinking of it!) Anyhow, not sure if that's a little too personal but it's whats on my mind at the minute.
I have declared Christmas to be a TOY FREE ZONE this year and I have to say my Little Big Miss M has taken this declaration very well - to the extent of even telling me she already has enough toys!

Delved into the garage (boxes and boxes of things still unpacked since our move over 6 months ago) and found a whole box of forgotten fabric! YAY!

Well, here's to getting decluttered, organised and maybe even another forgotten discovery or two in the process.

What's with the crab photo at the start you say? Its just a pic I took prior to our move away from the beach and I've always liked it.

Aint it Grand…

 Well, yesterday I got busy again (I think this warm summer weather is inspiring me to make light summery girly clothing) and did up a skirt for Little little Miss M.

I used the tutorial from Grand Revival found here. Now the skirt is for a size 5/6 and my little girl is only a 1 so I made some adjustments but next time I’ll make the under layer a bit longer cause you can barely see it on my one.

But if you look closely there is a little bit of pink checker peeking out the bottom.

The other thing I did was embellish a plain white Target T-shirt (on sale for $3.75 – must go get some more Smile) with some tuxedo ruffles.

I have seen many tutorials online with this done but I didn’t really follow any in particular – I just over locked the edge of three matching strips, ruffled them, drew some lines on the shirt and sewed them down.

I had a few ‘doh’ moments with the skirt which meant my quick unpick got a little bit of a work out (sewed the bottom tier on inside out – my excuse is it was late at night Winking smile).

I am pretty pleased how the outfit turned out on a whole though.

Since the t-shirts were a bargain I did up a co-coordinating t-shirt for Little big Miss M and the skirt we sewed up the other day.

I cut the bottom hem off the t-shirt and did a lettuce edge along the bottom. Cut two circles each from the birdie and red fabric and over locked the edges. Did the stems in the blue ric rac and then sewed the circles on with a little pinch or two in the middle to give it a bit of a ruffle.

 The girls were happy & that made me pretty happy too!

Over the next couple of days I want to sew up some ruffled diaper/nappy covers and I have to get started on a costume request for a Dex Hamilton outfit. Hmmm… busy busy Smile

Nov 20, 2010

10.5 years and I’ve only just discovered…

Well, I have owned my trusty overlocker for just over 10 and a half years and I have never ever tried lettuce edging. Just the thought of rethreading or changing overlocker settings scared me more than I could handle.
But a week or two ago my mother in law asked me to lengthen the sleeves on a top for her and lo and behold it was stretch jersey which necessitated a lettuce type edge. Now I don’t even know if I did it properly because most things I read suggested I needed to do it with only 3 threads (my serger is a 4 thread) and well that whole rethread thing got me… so my lettuce edging/rolled hem I did with all threads untouched and only what I discovered were minor adjustments to the machine.
Differential feed reduced to 0.5 and tension to R (which I assume is for rolled hem – one might consult the manual but I really just wanted to get on with it).
Fabric cutter disengaged
and a little flick of a switch and HEY PRESTO…
We went from this:
To this:

So all in all, I really don’t know why I hadn’t given this type of serging and over locking a go sooner because now that I have I really REALLY like it… Look out for more lettuce edging soon… Smile with tongue out

Nov 19, 2010

The Little Birdie Twirly Skirt

The girls and I had a lovely sunny morning strolling around the local fauna park. I was pretty impressed as most the animals were out and about… saw lots of kangaroos, birds, a couple of koalas, an emu, crocodile and a few snakes.
And an added bonus to the 2 hours we spent wandering the fauna park was the girls simultaneously had an awesome afternoon nap. WOOHOO, so that meant I actually had time to sew up the skirt I drafted a pattern for last night.

So, it turned out pretty close to how I imagined it being. The waist across the front is a flat panel with the rear waist panel being elasticised. I was going to use adjustable elastic but got a little lazy and just opted for the regular stuff.

And then I presented it to little big Miss M upon her waking from her afternoon nap. It was greeted with much gushing, giggles and excitement from her – which I think is so special because I’m guessing at some p0int  she’ll crinkle her nose with disdain at the idea of wearing homemade (but I’m hopeful that I can ensure she develops a passion for sewing and creating before then, thus averting the nose crinkling disdain).
So it was out into the back yard for a play and a frolic under the sprinkler – loving summer!

Managed to get just a couple of shots before both she and her sister got absolutely drenched….
What a fun day Smile

Nov 18, 2010

Pattern drafting, mess creating and a little inspiration...

I didn't get a chance to fit any sewing into my day today but after the girls went down for the night I decided to attempt a pattern draft for a skirt I kind of had a mental vision for.
 Now, I have no official training in pattern drafting so my attempt created a fair amount of mess and took a little longer than I had hoped.
Note the many, many redrawn lines... The first one I drew up was a size 3 (3T) for my little big Miss M and the second one was a size 1 (18mths) for my little little Miss M.
The second pattern was sooooo much easier because I could use the first one as a guide.
The fabric above is the material I'll use for the size 3 skirt. It's going to have the blue waistband, a red main section with blue ric rac and a gorgeous birdy fabric hem panel finished with red bias tape.
I really hope it turns out how I am imagining it in my head...
Fingers crossed for a good nap time from the girls tomorrow afternoon so that I can sew up this skirt.
Cheers xo

Nov 17, 2010

Another day another refashion…

Two days sewing in a row… now that’s something that doesn’t happen too often these days!
I started off with plans to refashion this skirt (which began life as a Size 10 girls skirt) into a dress for my Little Little Miss M (18mths old)…
I wanted a shirred bodice, so I cut it open and removed a portion from the side to allow material for arm bands. After shirring and a little snip here and there plus a little bit of trial and error with the arm straps it finally came together… BUT… I decided this suited my Little Big Miss M (3.5 y/old) better because of its length (I didn’t want to re-hem especially since it had such a nice trim already).
So, that meant that the first refashion from yesterday went to Little Little Miss M…. who was quite happy with her big sisters dress.

So, I’m wondering if tomorrow I might make something from scratch. Since the weather is starting to really warm up I think I may make some bright twirly skirts… every girl loves twirly skirts don’t they?

Refashioned girls skirt to toddler dress...

Well I finally got a little bit organised (only a little) and pulled out one of the skirts I've had lying around for months and refashioned it into a really basic dress for my little big Miss M (as opposed to my little little Miss M whom I'll sew up a refashioned skirt for later today whilst I'm feeling inspired).



With only a few really basic changes I cut the skirt down one side and over-locked a new side seam. Then using the part I cut off I made 4 spaghetti straps and a headband… DONE! Just too easy!
And the finished product…. drumroll…… TA DAH!


Hmmm… still looks a little too skirt like for me but Little Big Miss M loves it so I guess it’s alright… I’ll use a little more effort for my next one I think.


P.S Just experimenting with fonts and layouts so sorry if its looking a little messy over here :)

Nov 15, 2010

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate Bundt…

No sewing as yet… BUT I did order even MORE fabric online and baked two of these fabulous triple choc Bundt cakes.
This cake is both incredibly delicious and easy to bake. Dress it up with some strawberries and cream and its perfect for an impressive dinner party dessert.
Find the recipe here but trust me its seriously so wickedly delicious it could be dangerous!
After you check it out bookmark the site because no matter what recipe you’re looking for (formerly is the place to look for it – and by checking out comments/ratings you are pretty much assured a winner.
Hmmm… well I really need to get sewing….

Nov 3, 2010

The backyard is ours…

Yesterday was a gorgeous sunny day, the washing wash hung out and it was shaping up to be a lovely backyard day… Until the air was filled with a faint buzzing that became louder and louder (I was inside at the time). Finally, curiosity got the better of me and I peeked out the front… nothing, which was strange because the buzzing was really pretty loud by now. I checked out back and lo and behold the sky was filled with masses of bees! Now I understand everything has its place in the environmental scheme of things but that did nothing to allay the fear that settled over me – I really am not a bug person, especially not a fan of any that have the ability to bite or sting. Now, I wish I managed a photo of this frightening swarm in flight but I really was quite scared and couldn’t quite think straight other than to forcefully ensure my little ones went no where near the doors for fear of them letting any in.
I felt a little braver today and managed to photograph the swarm all nestled in and making themselves comfy on one of the trees out the back (mind you I utilised the mega zoom on my camera to ensure a mighty distance between them and I!)
I was about an hour away from calling an apiarist but I peeked out this afternoon and almost mysteriously, they were gone.
So the bees had the run of the yard for a day but tomorrow…

THE BACKYARD IS OURS AGAIN! Here’s hoping for a sunny day Open-mouthed smile

Nov 2, 2010

Beautiful Birthday Cakes - Princesses, a castle and a carousel!

Another closet hobby of mine is cake decorating. Having two little princesses means that each year for their birthday I am unleashed to attempt an iced masterpiece. I learnt some basic cake decorating skills during a term of elective activities at high school and the rest was gleaned from my mum who fostered a love of cooking and creativity in me from a very young age.
I have found through experimentation that I prefer to use marshmallow fondant to decorate with as I find it easier to handle and that it gives a nice smooth finish with relatively little heartache.

This first photo is of me as a little bub and my mum. You see the princess cake there - it is what inspired me to create a princess cake for my beautiful little girls first birthday...
Back in the 70's I guess those hideous orange netting curtains were all the rage!

My first attempt with fondant icing and a princess cake.

My eldest daughters 2nd birthday was only 4 weeks after I had my youngest daughter so it had to be something quick and easy as my little bub had no concept of sleep routines!!!

For my 2nd bubs 1st B'day... my second attempt at a princess cake

My big girls 3rd birthday carousel cake... I was pretty proud of this one - at 1am the morning of her birthday it was almost the carousel cake that never was! Thankfully it all seemed to come together pretty well... even my self painted and decorated little horses (these beauties caused me to fall in love with my glue gun all over again!)


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