Friday, August 1, 2014

Floral Friday : In a Vase

Well, we arrived safely in Canada and have been here for just under two weeks.  It is so beautiful at this time of the year (we normally come in Winter so it's a lovely change for us), everything is so lush and green and pretty flowers are everywhere - both in gardens and growing wildly.  I've never seen so many vivid colours and pretty flowers in such abundance.  Coming from an Australian coastal environment, it's a refreshing change for us and a bit of a novelty.  I can't stop taking photos of flowers - my husband thinks I've become quite the botanist!

We are also very lucky to have a great walking trail behind our cottage.  It is heaven.  Both for walking, cycling and for looking at pretty wild flowers.  I was going to go and pick a whole bunch of different flowers and arrange them in a vase for this month's Floral Friday "In a Vase" theme but I will save those for another day.  This month's hero has to be my Mother-in-Law's hydrangeas.  They are the most impressive hydrangeas I've ever seen and are huge, perfectly formed and so healthy.  I have no idea of the variety but I know they are the nicest and biggest ones I've ever seen.  I couldn't resist showing them off.  

What do you think? Have you ever seen such heavenly hydrangeas?

There are quite a few other bloggers joining Under Lock & Key's Floral Friday challenge so please do take a moment to check out the links below to see what the other lovely bloggers in this series have to say about their floral arrangements.

Floral Fridays is a monthly photography project with different themes each month. This series is about fun and taking time out to smell the flowers. To play along, please email Trishie for next month's theme.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Goodbye Gift : Pen-Pal Sets (with printable)

Eeeek!  It's only a matter of a very small number of weeks now until we leave for our 6-month stint in Canada.  I'm a bit weird but I'm not into the whole "countdown" thing - I prefer to pretend I'm not sure when we're leaving and then be all like "oh, look, today's the day we're leaving for Canada!".  I know it's strange but I function better that way.  One thing I haven't been able to pretend about is my son's very last week of Year 1.  He will never again be in Year 1 in Australia.  He will be saying goodbye to his teacher and his friends today and although he is very, very excited about going to live in Canada, he doesn't particularly want to leave his friends or his teacher, or go to a new school.  He has only ever known the one school and has been going there since 3 year old Kindy - it's a big, big change for him.  He says things like, "But they won't know my name over there", "They won't know what to call me", "They won't play football, will they?".  So I thought to help him feel a bit more connected and to have a little bit of home with him in Canada, I would make up some Pen-pal sets for each of his classmates as Goodbye Gifts.  Even if only one of his friends writes, it will make a difference and be exciting and special for him.

They were simple to make up.  In each pack I put 3 blank cards (2 plain white, 1 patterned) and envelopes, 2 sticker sheets, an eraser and a pencil.  I packaged it all in a clear envelope with some string and attached a "See you later Alligator" tag with our Canadian address on the back (I didn' t think it was a good idea to publicise our address on the www so I have blocked it out in the pic - just in case you think I had a bit of a slip with my graphic design skills!).  I was pretty happy with the way the tag turned out so I did a blank version, which you can download here if you want to make up your own pen-pal sets ... and at the same time encourage old-fashioned communication between your kids!

So, that's me - done - for now, from Australia.  The next time I post I will be sitting in a lake-side cottage in an itty-bitty town in Ontario spending time with my Canadian family and trying very hard not to overindulge on Tim Horton donuts and bagels.  But then again I am on holiday ...

Monday, June 9, 2014

Doll Carrier

I started this Oliver + S doll carrier a couple of weeks ago at my "Sew Martha Sew" sewing night that I hold with a group of fellow "Martha's", and I finally got it finished this weekend.  The pattern is from the Oliver + S book "Little Things to Sew", which I bought recently.  The doll carrier (or bear carrier as it is called in the book) was the reason I bought the book, having seen it many times on various blogs around town, but now that I have it I want to make everything in it - which happens frequently to me. Everything in the book is super cute and each pattern is rated using a one-to-four scissor system - one scissor being Beginner, two scissors Advanced Beginner etc so you know before you start what level you need to be before you attempt a project. The doll carrier is rated 2 scissors, and apart from stumbling at the very first instruction, the pocket (which was nothing to do with the pattern and all to do with me ... too much talking, not enough focus and basically just being a bit "blonde" on the night), the instructions and diagrams are all very clear and it was a pleasure to make, which I'm pretty sure is what Oliver + S patterns are known for.

The fabric I chose for the main part of the carrier, a deer print cotton duck, was probably an unusual choice for a little girl's doll carrier but I just loved it the moment I laid eyes on it and I decided I would use it regardless of it being a bit on the different side.  The pink polkadot fabric for the straps just happened to be from the same Buzoku Duck collection, although I didn't realise that until I got home and read the selvedge.  The lining and the pocket trim is a cotton chevron fat quarter.  And just for an added bit of fun and colour, I added two sets of bright yellow buttons to the straps.  I thought I may as well keep the eclectic theme going!

We road-tested the carrier on the weekend and it held up very well.  My daughter ran in it, she skipped in it, she climbed in it, she laid down to feed the ducks in it (forgetting about the "baby" strapped to her chest!) and she fell over in it - and apart from grazed hands and a scratch to her baby, all went very well and, oh my goodness, did she look cute! 

 I can see that this little carrier will be joining us on many more walks and "adventures", and no doubt will come in very handy during our upcoming trip to Canada where there will be lots of walking, excursions and general excitement - and we all know how tiring that can be for little dollies!

Friday, May 9, 2014

To Work or not to Work ... that is the question

Hello lovely people!

I'm really not a very good blogger, am I?  I've been quiet for so long and it feels like ages since I've posted anything.  Life has just been so busy these past few months and I simply haven't had any spare time to sit down and devote to this little hobby of mine, which is a shame (a big, fat one) but sometimes you've just got to realise that not everything is possible and life has to be prioritised.  I do hope to get back into the swing of things soon.  I hope you are patient and stick around.

I have managed something, though, behind the scenes.  The very gorgeous Trishie, from the Under Lock & Key blog asked me how I combine working with motherhood.  So I told her.  Here is my story, featured today on her blog.  Check out her blog while you're there - it's beautiful.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lah-Lah's Adventures Concert Ticket Giveaway!

Calling all Sydney-siders, calling all Sydney-siders!
I have an amazing DVD, CD and concert ticket giveaway opportunity for the amazing Aussie pre-school musical group Lah-Lah, who are touring Sydney throughout April in support of their new show Lah-Lah's Adventures.  How does that sound?  Fabbo?  Yes, so fabbo!  Check out Lah-Lah's YouTube video if you are not convinced, and the Media Release for more info and tour dates.  They are gorgeous and any little one would love to see them live. 

The prize pack contains a "Shake it Like This" CD, a "Making Music Lah-Lah's Way" CD, a "Lah-Lah's Adventures Brand New Day" DVD and a Family Pass (good for four) to the April 30th Casula Powerhouse, Casula NSW show.

If you haven't heard of Lah-Lah before (I actually hadn't) they are a band that introduces children to music and musical instruments through fun and entertainment. Based in Sydney (Australia), Lah-Lah features five wonderful expert musicians, who all love to share the joy of musicianship with little ones and their families. The group features a dancing double bass, singing saxophone and an accordion that sneezes when he squeezes.  I have been told Lah-Lah are Australia’s premier kid’s band.  Awesomeness!

The series follows central character Lah-Lah, who together with her buddy Buzz, the band leader, and their instrument character friends, Lola the double bass, Mister Saxophone, Squeezy Sneezy the piano accordion and Tom Tom the drums, explore a variety of musical styles from pop, jazz and world music, to a touch of Mozart.  So parents don't assume it will just be your kids who will be revelling in the fun, you too will be joining in, tapping and jiving to a whole new beat!

Thank you to Roadshow Entertainment for this really wonderful opportunity - one that I know your kids will love, enjoy and learn from.  If only we lived in Sydney ...

Enter below using Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 Good luck and please let me know how much fun you had if you are the "lah-lah lucky" winner!

Monday, March 31, 2014

(Giveaway) - Playschool, The Wiggles and Fireman Sam

Well, we all know how I feel about Play School, don't we?  It's a bit of a staple in our house and has been a part of my life for longer than I care to remember.  I was always going to jump at the chance to give away some Play School DVD's, and then put them together with The Wiggles and Fireman Sam and you've got yourself a bundle of TV watching joy - or at least your kids have. Well, and you, if they're the type of DVD's that float your boat.  I am a bit partial to Fireman Sam myself but then again it's probably just the uniform thing ...
So, once again, thanks to the wonderfully generous people at Roadshow Entertainment, I have 3 packs of 3 DVD's up for grabs : Play School In the Wild, Fireman Sam Hero at Sea and The Best of the Wiggles.  What a lovely, fun combination.  Here's the scoop:
The In the Wild series recognises that young children are curious investigators, who learn about the world around them as they play, discover and explore. In the Wild encourages a spirit of adventure as young children and their families are invited to share in a series of exciting escapades with the Play School toys and presenters. We explore wild places and spaces, discover wild animals and rare plants and play with the wild possibilities of imaginary worlds. Features Andrew McFarlane, Emma Palmer, Teo Gebert, Leah Vandenberg, and Zindzi Okenyo. 5 x 26 minute episodes.

Absolutely chock full of all the hits - Hot Potato, Can You (Point Your Fingers and Do the Twist?), Rock-A-Bye Your Bear, Toot Toot, Chugga Chugga, Big Red Car, Wake Up Jeff!, Captain Feathersword Fell Asleep on His Pirate Ship (Quack Quack), The Monkey Dance, Get Ready to Wiggle, Go Santa Go!, Dorothy (Would you Like to Dance?), Ooh It's Captain Feathersword, Dressing Up, Move Your Arms Like Henry, Lights Camera Action Wiggles!, Do the Owl, Play Your Guitar With Murray, Rockin' Santa, Getting Strong!, I'm Dorothy the Dinosaur, You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, Monkey Man, Hot Poppin Popcorn, Do the Propeller, Ready, Steady, Wiggle!, Simon Says and 10 other songs.
The beaches of Pontypandy are packed with daring rescues as Fireman Sam is a Hero at Sea! During a trip out to sea with the kids, Charlie nets the biggest catch Pontypandy has ever seen but his boat is damaged - will they sink or swim? Find out all this and more in this collection of heroic adventures. 6 x 10 min episodes.

To win one of these fabulously fun bundles, enter using Rafflecofter below.  Go on, I know you think Fireman Sam's cute too! Good luck and happy watching! x

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Swimming Robe and a Sewing Retreat

 Are you a little nutso for sewing? Do you fantasise about uninterrupted sewing time or crave some much needed "me" time? Would you like to get away from it all, escape to the country, surround yourself with like-minded "nutso's", be fed and watered (and fed very well I might add) for a whole weekend without lifting a finger AND sew into the wee small hours should you so desire? Well, I've got a little secret to share with you.  You can. Yep.  I'm not lying.  Turn your fantasy into a reality and go on a Sewing Retreat!  They are the best. They are soul-replenishing.  They are a hoot.  They are rewarding.  They are a must! 

I've just returned from my second "Sew Along" retreat run by the gorgeous and mega-experienced (not to mention mega patient!) Jemima Flendt of Tied with a Ribbon and Claire Turpin of Claire Turpin Design.  They hold their weekend retreats at the Avalon Homestead in Toodyay, Western Australia - seriously the perfect location, only an hour from Perth, and set high on a hill overlooking the Avon Valley. It feels like you are far more than an hour from the city.
Avalon Homestead - source
Whether you are a beginner sewer (like me) or advanced, whether you're a quilter or more of a project sewer (like me), the retreat caters for all.  Jemima & Claire are on hand all weekend to offer advice, encouragement and mini workshops.  The retreat runs from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon and all meals are included - but be warned, dessert is served at every meal and it is very, very difficult to resist.  Also included is a "mystery project" which is normally the first project on the first night - a bit of an ice-breaker and a bit of easy fun - but it's completely up to you if you want to do it or not.  If not, you still get to take the mystery kit home to work on another day.  They also throw in two free patterns for you so not only do you totally get your money's worth, you're getting some lovely little extras.  It really is a well-run, well-organised, well-planned retreat absolutely choc full of creative goodness and oh-"sew"-fabulous people all wanting the same thing ... to sew, and sew, and sew ... and eat a lot of a bit of chocolate mousse in between!!

Last year, for my daughter, I made this "Living With Punk'sBookworm Skirt (I didn't blog about it but I did take some little piccies) and this year I made her a Swimming Robe made from bath towels.  I also made an Apron for my Mother-in-law (which is meant to be a surprise so I'm hoping she misses this post). 
The swimming robe was a "Dana Made-it" pattern which I came across via the Probably Actually blog.  Seriously, if you want to see sewing at its best then you must check out Gail from Probably Actually's blog - her stuff is drool-worthy.  To make the robe I used two bath towels from Target (2 for $8 - ha!), a really lovely organic fabric called Gumdrops Red by Monaluna for the hood (my favourite bit of the whole robe ... too cute!),which I bought from Lima Sews, and a green spotted extra wide bias binding from Spotlight.  The actual pattern is simple and would suit an experienced beginner sewer - it's really just the insane amount of bias binding that is a bit tricky for a newbie (I may have said a couple of bad words quietly under my breath, or out loud, I can't be sure).  But if you take it slow and pin, pin, pin like crazy, it can actually be quite therapeutic and if my machine hadn't been playing up (totally my fault - no service in two years!!), it would have actually been a fairly stress-free experience. I do think it's the bias binding and the lined hood that makes this swimming robe a total adorable winner so it really is worth going to the extra effort (just whisper the naughty words). The only adjustment I made to the pattern was making the hood a little bit longer as Gail had mentioned in her blog that the hood was a bit short for her daughter. I can't wait to road test it at the pool this Thursday!
For the secret-squirrel Apron, I used an organic floral voile from Spotlight (sorry I cut the selvedge off the fabric and I can't remember the name of it) and a pink polka dot cotton for the lining.  This is a super-easy pattern and is a good first project.  I used this pattern from Ink & Spindle which is free - yes, free!  Pretty great. Sorry, I didn't get a very good shot of the Apron - this one is me holding it up during "show & tell" at the retreat, which happens on the last day.  We all sit around and goo and gah at what everyone has achieved over the weekend.

So, all in all, a really fabulous weekend with an equally fabulous group of lovely women all passionate about sewing and creating.  Such creative love in one room ... ahhhhh, can we do it again next weekend?  Please?

Have you been to a sewing retreat or a creative-style retreat?  Did you love it?  Did your cup runneth over? Do share.