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The past two years have been all about adjusting to motherhood and finding my way through it via craft. The out pouring of this came in the form of my blog Aunty Mum. Now I'm finally finding my feet, the children are growing, I'm getting some independence and my interests are morphing . . . into cooking. Join me in exploring creativity in many forms, food, fabric, frowns and laughter.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Seriously Gifted

Unfortunately the title doesn't speak for my design skills. Last night over dinner Janae informed me that she was getting an elephant for her birthday. Well, I knew I had this lovely striped fabric sitting in my box that would probably never be used for much and I had a vision of a soft and squishy elephant.

Having no pattern I decided it couldn't be too hard to draw one and go from there. An hour and half later, and late into the night, I was putting this together.

I have dubbed her Ellie the world's ugliest elephant but I'm sure Janae will love her. Then this morning she informed me she was getting a heart cushion for her birthday. Now that, I feel confident, shouldn't be too difficult.

Now this gift I can only show snippets of until she is gifted next week as I don't want the recipient to guess it's for her. This has been a mammouth task but I've so loved making her and all the little things that come with her. How cute is this camera?

She even has groovy red sunglasses.

And check out this back pack. It has something special in it too. I'm really looking forward to giving her away. I have a feeling there's a daughter that might love this as much (probably more) as her mummy but that's okay too.

Now there are only a few gifts left to make for teachers and we're almost done on the creative front for Christmas. Whew, then I can get back to the baby throw I'm supposed to be making!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Some days you achieve so much

And today was one of those. I started out this morning making this card for Anna's birthday. As she's the resident song writer we are going to get her a lovely mechanical pencil and scripting paper so that she can properly script the songs she writes. We're also going to give her a $5 petrol voucher. You see, like many of us, Anna runs around in a car that has the "fill me up" light going. Hence, her husband is investing in a petrol can for her. Knowing this we decided that we'd ensure she has some gas in it for the next time she runs out. How cheeky are we!?

So I made the card while I was waiting for the lovely Carolyn to come by so we could make the gifts we're giving our faithful Mainly Music helpers. For the ladies we're making coffee cup sleeves. They're supposed to be for take-away coffees but we've discovered they fit equally well around a standard coffee mug too. If you're like me, you get half way through a cup of tea or coffee and then find it's gone cold while you've been distracted doing something else.

This is the finished product and I LOVE it! I'm definately going to make one of these for myself. And, we have enough materials over to make some more that we hope to sell to our MM mums. If you want one, let me know . . . they're only $10 and are made with much love and laughter.

Finally today, I've completed my frame upcycle project. I painted the ghastly brown frame cream and then, this morning, I "papered" it with a lovely textured tissue like paper I found while digging around for card ingredients to make Anna's card. I'm not totally in love with it, but it's not bad when I take into consideration that I've spent a grand total of $4.95 on the whole project. That's got to be good. I will let you in on a secret . . . it's no where near as good as the other two I've already seen. I'll post those pictures when we've had our big "reveal".

As for the coffee cup holders, you don't have to buy one. As soon as I remember the link I'll post it and you can make your own!

Now it's time to finish off the dinner as there's quite a lot of hair pulling, screaming and fighting going on. It's fair to assume that my two girls haven't had much to eat today so they're not very happy right now. Better go!

Friday, November 25, 2011

So much to do

And really, so little time, but it's still loads of fun. Here's the almost complete picture frame upcycle project. I know it's not square in the frame and it's a little rumpled, but I've only placed it in the frame to see the effect thus far.

Of course, the truly amusing thing about this is that, so far, I haven't even done anything to the frame. I intend to paint it cream on Monday and, once it's dry, sand it back so you can see some of the brown through it and hopefully achieve a somewhat distressed look.

And on a completely different note: I was given some cash for my birthday so that I could get what I really wanted. As my little handbeater gave up the ghost a couple of weeks ago (this being my only tool for beating ingredients necessary for cake making) I realised that I needed to invest in a cake mixer.

I grew up with a Kenwood (I believe these to be the Rolls Royce of cake mixers) but they're HUGELY expensive and I've never dreamed I would own one until my mother left me hers; of course, she's never going to die so I'll never have it. Well, with my birthday money, and a top up from mum for Christmas I'm now the proud owner of a Kenwood cake mixer. Unfortunately Mum has decided it needs to stay at her house until Christmas day so I can't make anything yet. However, it did force me to clear out my pantry so that when my lovely mixer arrives home there's a space for it.

Are you the kind of mother who lobs everything she doesn't want the children to get hold of right at the top of your pantry? Yep! Me too so clearing it out was a double blessing. Any hooo, I cleared it out and found this:

This is an Italian glass ccoffee cup that was given to me by my employers when I left my publishing job many years ago. I'm ashamed to say that, at the time, I decided they can't have liked me much because I considered it hideous. However, when I got it out of the box and set it up on my bookshelf yesterday (the one that is currently my display case for my lovely kitchen things) I realised that I am now, totally in love with it. I do hate the idea of drinking hot beverages out of glass as my tender little fingers get burnt, but it's still fun to look at.

So you can see it's been a productive couple of days. Now I need to knuckle down to my current Greenhowe project as I've a million other things I need to make before Christmas and it's one little girl's fourth birthday in exactly one week.  Arghhhhhhhhh! Too much to do!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Making Progress

I've been busy chugging away at the embroidery for my Frame Upcycle challenge and have finally finished the main part of the image. I'm starting to really love this with the swirly roses, the polka dot basket, the satin stitch leaves and even the sneaky little butterfly.

I roped my mum into helping me chose the border fabric today as I was struggling to decide what would look best. We've made a decision to use the same fabric as the heart. It's choclate brown with lovely pinky flowers, which seems to go well with my lace and rick rack that I'm pairing with it.

I also laid the empty frame over the two fabrics to be sure it'd be okay. I still have a few jobs to do, such as painting the frame and deciding if I'm going to do any treatment to it, but I'm feeling like I'm making headway at last.

And I've even found a home for it once the challenge is over. A dear old family friend, Rosa, bestowed on me lots of fabrics, laces, and other sewing goodies when she was packing up her home to move so I am going to give her this, once it's finished, as a small way of saying thank you. And, because it's been so much fun to make I'm wondering if there might be a market for these. I've been trying to work out how I can make a living once all my children are out of the home all day and I have had feedback about those headbands I made as party favours . . . remember these? Apparently people have been asking the wearers where they were purchased and where they can get some for their daughter. So, desipte my lack of faith in my own work, maybe there is a living to be made. I'll have to keep researching I think.

But now I need to send some children to bed as one is flashing his behind in my face to check his wiping skills while the other two are fighting on the trampoline. Yes bed time once again!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Time Flies

I was just browsing through some of the first posts I ever wrote and cannot believe how much the children have changed: how much I've changed for that matter.

Once my whole life was about them. Now it's easy to see that my life is more balanced and is as full of creativity, craft and friends as it is of children and their needs. Just check out these "Then and Now" photographs:

Janae at 12 months (about two weeks after I got her)

 Janae this weekend aged almost 4

 Kayley at five modling one of my more disasterous crochet designs when I first started crocheting
Kayley at almost nine being a very helpful girl

 Rogan at three finally mastering how to climb up the slide steps on his own

 Rogan at almost six, looking very cool with his face paint and sparkler.

Where did those three years go? How did the children grow so quickly without my noticing? What images will I be posting in three years time? They might be hard work but boy they're rewarding!

Blissful Respite on Crafty Monday

It's been a fun, full and festive three days celebrating turning 40, however, today it was quiet, constructive and restful.

My six hours are almost up and they've flown away but it's been so lovely to have some quiet time after so much activity. I started my morning by organising my pretties that were given to me over the past weekend.

My tray is looking so lovely on the bookcase with just one or two things on it. Now I have to remind myself not to put other things on it as I go by.

I put some roses I picked from my garden in my bedroom and as I walk past the door they make me smile. Plus, each time I go in there I'm greeted by a faint but lovely smell of fresh roses. Mmmmm. Can't beat real blooms.

But I've also been busy working on Crafty Monday today. The date for our Picture Frame Upcycle Challenge is drawing nearer and I've changed my mind as to what's going in my frame so many times I can't even remember half of the ideas I've had.

But browsing through the magazines Corleah gave me on Friday (while being papmered at the hairdressers) I came across a gorgeous hand embroidered/applique/quilt picture in a lovely frame and realised that's what I had to do for my frame.

Here's the original that I'm copying. I'm adding a couple of bits and the fabrics are completely different, but that's all good as it's lots of fun. I do, however, have to put it reluctantly down now as it's drawing nearer to school collection time and then the chaos will prevail until bedtime, but that's the bliss of children.

Here's hoping your week is crafty too.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What a Day!!

Being two days out from my official birthday I wasn't feeling at all in a birthday mood today. I had a date to go for coffee morning with the lovely Carolyn, and didn't really feel like that. I wanted to stay home and work on my latest Greenhowe doll. But, I'd committed to it so I would go.

Well, I got home from the school drop off to find something red and dazzling on my doorstep. The gorgeous Kate had donned her Angel wings and left me this beautiful gift. I never cease to be amazed how, just sometimes, the desires of our hearts are given to us.

I had seen some silicone cake moulds just like these yesterday and longed to buy some. But being on a pre-Christmas budget drive I put them back on the shelf. Imagine my glee as I opened the fabulously spotted cake tin to find these inside. I also had these beautiful speciments to put in a vase . . .

They are simply divine. If you haven't already popped over to Kate's blog you need to go now and see all the fabulous things she makes. Now I had to telephone Kate first thing and thank her for her gifts. She asked me all about my plans for the day and ooohhed and ahhhed in interest. Not once did I think she was hiding a dark secret!

I arrived at our coffee morning to a sea of faces (some that don't usually attend on a Friday morning) a very loud chorus of "Happy Birthday" and I promptly burst into tears. How silly of me. Kate had known all about this surprise party and didn't drop one hint.

The table had been carefully laid out with all manner of delights, the chairs adorned with beautiful organza, a fresh fruit punch and a hot cup of Lady Grey ready for me. I was overwhelmed to say the least.

And then I was handed a large, rose wrapped gift. I was still so overwhelmed that I couldn't get the ribbons off. Rex was quick to the rescue and I was showered with the most delightful things and I was, one by one, reminded of conversations I'd had with various friends over the past couple of weeks.

"I don't have a tray" I announced to Corleah as she explained how she was upcycling her frame to a tea tray. "I love this hedgehog book" I said to Andrea in Spotlight one day. "I need to see Mrs M and ask her to make me a necklace to go with my lovely new dress" I said to Carolyn just the other day. It brings tears of joy to my eyes just thinking of how loved I felt to know that my friends had taken my throw-away comments and turned them into the best gift EVER!

And, the only way to sum up how blessed I am to have these friends is to share the card they gave me with the gift. This says it all!

Thank you ladies (and gents) for an amazing morning and one of the best birthdays I can remember. Now I want to plan all the ways I can make your next birthday as special!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I'm not sure what it is

I'm not sure if it's the fact that I'm turning 40 in a matter of days; or if it's that I'm over tired, run down and have a raging sore throat; I'm not sure if it's the big barney I had with my dad last week or the mountain of work that keeps piling up around the home; what ever the reason I've spent quite a lot of the week in the "I'm feeling blue" basement of my heart. I don't like being here much as it's a long climb back up those stairs and I've got my birth mother and grandmother arriving in two days. But, never one to let a sad mood keep me down, it's been a very productive week also.

I've finally got all my Christmas swap things ready to go and I'll get them posted off tomorrow. Yeah, it feels good to have these finished. I tell you, if you're looking for a cathartic, pleasurable, quick and beautiful craft to do, make some of these baubles. I couldn't finish them last week as I'd run out of pins and had to ask the lovely Carolyn to get me some more on her trip to Spotlight yesterday. But now it's all done, and before the deadline, which is quite astounding really.

These are the lovely decorations I've received in the post so far. I'm looking forward to dusting off the Christmas tree and getting them hung up. Still a few more weeks to go before we do that though.

I've also made a start on this little lass for a Christmas gift for a friend. Yes, you all know I'm addicted to Jean Greenhowe and Andrea dropped off the "Red Nose Gang" books last week. I'm not sure what it is, but I cannot have a new stash of Greenhowe patterns and not start something. These patterns are slightly more complex than others I've done of hers, which just makes them more interesting. And there's a million little elements to go with it (aside from the obvious, like arms). I will be making an umbrella, a backpack with fun things like a thermos in it. A skirt with embroidered flowers. The list goes on. So I keep picking up my knitting needles and plodding on. It's a good thing it's reasonably good weather so I can spend the afternoons outdoors on the swing seat knitting, while the children charge around the garden doing all sorts of exciting things with hoses, paddling pools . . . oh and let's not forget the daily bee hunt (thankfully no one has been stung yet).

And while I eagerly await my annual hair cut and pamper session on Friday afternoon, I have this gorgeous dress to admire. I was dragged out by my mother the other day and we went shopping to find her some new summer tops. I was admiring some of the lovely dresses when she forced (yes forced) me to try this on. It's not only lovely to look at but lovely to wear. It's cool, it's stylish (well I think so) and it's one of those items of clothing that I will love to wear. I will have been out in the heat mowing lawns, I'll have had a cool and refreshing shower and I'll throw this on and feel bliss. I just know it!

But that's enough chatter for one day. I've still got floors to hoover (before the kids get home rather than immediately I think) and I need to keep on with my doll. I have a fence to mend around the vege garden and maybe even a nana nap to fit in before 3pm. Boy that'll keep me busy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

More Decorations

One of the teachers at pre-school came rushing up to me the other day to show me her latest creation. I was overjoyed that she shared it with me and vowed that I'd make some for my Christmas swap.

So this afternoon I was sitting blissfully at my desk making these (until I remembered that I'd promised to help the lovely Carolyn with her Photoshop Assignment). These are sooooo easy to make and very cathartic too. It's been a bit of a bummer week so sitting in the quiet sticking pins into something was exactly what my soul needed.

Basically, get yourself a polystyrene ball, some flat head pins, some sequins and some ribbon. Place the ribbon in a cross around the ball and secure with a pin at the top and where the ribbons cross at the bottom. The start pinning on the sequins.

It took a while to work out the most effective way to place the sequins but now I pin sequins around the outside of the wedge created by the ribbons then fill the inside in rows from bottom to top. It seems to maximise coverage of the ball.

I had a whole lot of the hanging bits at the top left over from the glass balls I made my wreath out of. Actually, confession time, after seeing Donna's balls I came home and dug through my rubbish bin to find them because I'd thrown them out never thinking I'd have a use for them. Thankfully I hadn't dumped any awful kitchen rubbish on top so it wasn't an awful job. But Donna assures me that these can be purchased quite cheaply from craft shops.

I've threaded some matching ribbon through the loop, tied it off and it's all set to hang from a tree.

I've also decided that I've been far too ambitions (and probably a bit show-offy) and making three decorations for each person was going a little over the top. So, I have six knitted decorations and am well on the way to having six sequined balls so I'm fairly sure that the recipients will be quite happy with one of each (I hope).

It also leaves some time to work on another Christmas gift. Andrea has loaned me some Jean Greenhowe books of the "Red Nose Gang" and I'm attempting to make a hybrid of about three dolls for someone our family loves. I can't say too much as I think this person checks out the blog from time to time.

Now the children are gathered around, Kayley is waiting for the computer to do some homework, Janae's just being noisy and Rogan is just hanging about because it looks like he's missing out on something. Thus, it's time to sign off for today.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Busy busy busy

We had a lovely time shopping for our picture frames on Monday, and we visited lots of opportunity shops. I am not a frequenter of op shops as I walk and and behave like a stunned mullet at the array of merchandise available then leave again. But with Andrea as our tour guide and teacher I found lots of little wonders. This is just one of them. A huge stash of pre-cut quilting squares. I've counted them and there are over 90 for a mere $2.50. Fabulous. Can't wait to figure out what to do with them.

I also found a big bag of assorted balls. This is perfect for my ball loving Rogan for Christmas. It has made me realise how we, as mothers, plant seeds of what children actually want for Christmas: and sometimes it's not very subtle. Yesterday afternoon when Rogan was hunting for his flashing smiley ball I said "Perhaps Santa might bring you lots of little balls for Christmas," and Rogan thought this was a wonderful idea and rushed indoors to write it on his Christmas list. Tick, that's one gift sorted.

I also purchased a frame (of course) and a couple of quilting magazines that were about 10% of the retail price and still had all the templates in tact. I was over the moon. I can't believe that I spent a day out shopping, even had some lunch out and came home with $3 left over from my $20 budget. I need to shop like this more often.

But since then I've been beavering away on my Christmas swap gifts. These will be the last of the knitted ones as I have new ideas. These three treasures are for someone who has told me her favourite colour is yellow. The Christmas tree is incomplete and it will have yellow and red balls on it.

On Thursday I intend to get the supplies I need for the next project so I'll let you in on that secret once I've got the first made. You're going to love this crafty treasure as it's super easy and super gorgeous. Bet you can't wait now.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Guy Fawkes

I'm not entirely sure why we as a nation still celebrate the attempt to blow up the English parliament in 1605 but we do and the children love it! We followed tradition and joined some friends down on the beach in front of my parent's home. We set out our explosives at intervals along the low tide mark, waited for darkness to descend and then the men got busy setting them off.

Little Janae was terrified. Before we even got to the beach she was asking if she could go home to bed. We got the sparklers out and she refused to hold them. The fear didn't last long. She was tucked up on Nanny's knee as it was FREEZING down there and after the first firework was over she was calling out "one more Granddad". And before you know it she was begging for sparklers quicker than I could get them lit.

The other two were in raptures too. Rogan bouncing about like a bunny and Kayley taking it all in her "I'm almost nine and too cool to get excited" way. Needless to say it was a fairly late night and there are three tired and ratty children this evening but it's all worth it really.

And today I came home from church in the brilliant sunshine expecting to be mowing lawns. By the time the five minute journey was over it was pouring with rain. So I had no choice but to finish off this Christmas decoration. It has been fun to make but I'm pleased it's finished. There are just so many elements to this that I doubt I'll make another one. Now I'm busy making yellow and purple baubles (knitted of course). But I have three monsters racing around the house like mad things so I'd better go feed them before herding them into an early bed. 

Oh, tomorrow is our shopping trip to get special things for our frame upcycle. Can't wait for that! I'm sure I'll end up with treats that will have nothing to do with picture frames. I'll let you know!

Friday, November 4, 2011

It's all about Christmas here

As you know I've signed up for a Christmas Decoration swap and I was Pinterest-ing the other day and came across these gorgeous wreaths made from baubles for Christmas trees. Not being particularly bright these days (due largely to a lack of sleep, too much to do and desperate need of a holiday) I thought I'd make some of these for my swap. Hmmm. A couple of major problems:

1. They are so fragile that there is almost no way I could put them in the post and expect them to get there in one piece;
2. They're quite expensive. I've used over 45 baubles on this wreath and it's only a little one. I had imagined I'd do a big one for my front door, but I think this one will have to do.

Now I'll have to rethink some other ideas for my swap. I have my decorations that I've knitting but I really wanted to mix it up a bit. Oh well, thinking cap goes back on.

And I have a confession to make about the creation of this wreath. My darling girl came home from volleyball tonight (she'd won and played brilliantly apparently) and I fussed over how clever she is before sending her off to bed with a book and a promise that I'd be in to say goodnight shortly. I got completely sidetracked and by the time I got in there she'd turned out her own light and was sound asleep. I'm a dreadful mother.

But Christmas Swaps aren't the only Christmasy things going on in our house. My Rogan and Kayley have been through my Jean Greenhowe books and picked out gifts they want me to make for their teachers. This little red breasted robin on a log is the start of Miss T's gift. There's one more holly sprig to make and then a square of snow for them all to sit on. The robin isn't attached yet and he will have feet (hopefully making him look more like a bird than a mouse with a red nose and a swollen tail). I should complete this one tonight and make a start on Rogan's gift. And Janae has just been given a place at a local kindergarten and will start on December 5 so I'm feeling that I really need to make some lovely gifts for her gorgeous pre-school teachers that have been so good to her for the past year.

No more procrastinating. Back to work I go making gifts. Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Finished at Last

My first ever dress is completed at long last and Janae was eager to wear it to Mainly Music this morning. Everyone was very gracious and said it was lovely, but all I could see where the errors and the things I'd do differently next time.

But it fits, she looks gorgeous and she loves it so I'm eager to go pattern hunting and find something else to make. I'm loving this summer's maxi dresses so I'm thinking I may need to make a few of those for myself. We'll just have to see.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Starting the Decontamination

This morning, as the rain was pouring down I set Janae to some painting while I began the decontamination process.

No, we haven't been ill, but the room where I do my sewing has, until today, been known as the toy room. Really it's just the MESS room. My children are almost past the stage of playing with lots of little toys. Now they're more into sports, the great outdoors and hut making.

So while Janae was happily creating a few masterpieces I got to work. Unfortunately it wasn't a case of starting and finishing in the toy room, but I had to clear out a couple of bedrooms so that some of their most precious treasures could have a home there.

Consequently it has taken me all day just to get to this stage . . .

 It's my little corner of the world and I love it. It's still not perfectly ordered and tidy but at least there's a clear path across the floor to it now. Yesterday, while making Janae's birthday present I had to clamber over a pile of videos (yes videos, not DVDs . . . very strange phenomenon). I had to dodge a couple of beach chairs that Rogan and Janae use to sit on when watching their videos. Then I had to sift through a mountain of trains, cars, planes and other paraphernalia to get to the green machine.

What you can't see is the big pile of things I'm going to sneak out to the rubbish collection on Wednesday mornings. Shhh, don't tell the children, because I have a feeling that unless they're informed of this, they probably won't even notice the absence of things they never play with.

Now I want to sit down and carry on with another project but it's too close to dinner making time so there just isn't the time or head space to sew. Maybe tomorrow after Mainly Music.