Sunday, October 23, 2016

Quiet Time

So encouraged by Hebrews this morning. God is good.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Bunny for Rachel

I've noticed that there are lots of bunnies in our house. Bunnies in abundance. I think we have more bunnies than bears actually. They all have descriptive names like Big Bunny, Little Bunny, Average Size Bunny, and Fairy Bunny. Sophie has one that has her name embroidered on the front that we refer to as Sophie Bunny. Creative right?

Anyway, Rachel was lacking in a special bunny, so I made one for her. Now there are even more bunnies in the house! I had seen this tutorial on Sew Mama Sew, which was done by my favourite blogger, who's other stuffed animals I've also made (see a tiger here, and a ladybug here). 

I had thought about doing it a few months ago actually, but the thing that tipped me over the edge last week was a pillow case for a pillow for ants. We were never going to use it. It came with a cot sheet set. It was white and flannel-y, with little silver and yellow stars, so I cut it up and made a bunny. 

The bunny has pink felt ears and a white felt tail, but otherwise is made of pillow case. I stuffed him with rice and stuffing, so he can't get wet, and I hand sewed him over two nights watching movies. I wouldn't really recommend hand sewing soft toys, because kids can be pretty brutal on their toys and they could really use the strength of machine stitching, but I wanted the change of pace. 

And he was so fun to make, that I ended up making two. One for Rachel and the other for a friend who has a bub on the way. I'm kind of glad I had Rachel's to practice on, because one of her bunnies' ears is on backwards for some reason. She doesn't mind though.

Hugo gave the gift bunny a good looking over before I confiscated it and gave him Fairy Bunny instead. Then Sophie got Sophie Bunny out and the three of them had a picnic with their bunnies. Party on bunnies!

I keep asking Rachel what name she wants to give her bunny, and suggesting real names, like Bertha, but nothing's taking. Right now, we call her bunny; Rachel Bunny.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Learning Activity

I see these activities online all the time. They come with labels like "Quick activity to entertain your toddler!" and "No fuss task while you cook dinner!" In my experience, it's all lies. Never has my toddler sat and colour sorted pompoms or put things into different boxes. But I try these activities anyway, just in case they might work.

This was another such activity. Write the name in pen, give the child spot stickers to put over the lines. It's practising fine motor skills. And it's all well and good, until your child starts putting stickers all over themselves.

At least she was having fun.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Sophie helped me to make pavlova for dessert two weeks ago. When I told her we could, she was ecstatic. I think this is what she expected making pavlova was going to be like:

Image from Wombat's Birthday Surprise by Lachlan Creagh
This is what it was like:

Yep, she's licking sugar off the bench. I let her measure the sugar by spooning it into the bowl on the scales while I beat the egg whites. Of course, some missed the bowl.

It wasn't exactly as fun as she was hoping for, and when it came to fruit, she only wanted strawberries for hers, but it was fun none the less.

And the pavlova was delicious.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Garden Makeover!

I love growing things. It has been one of the best things about growing up and owning a house; that I can plant things and they grow! For a long time my growing attempts have been mostly confined to a number of pots that looked a bit like this (as seen here):

But the trouble with pots is that they dry out rather quickly in this hot Brisbane weather and you are limited as to what you can plant in them. I had talked with Steve a few times about getting a real herb garden, but he usually met my requests with a reminder of the fact that I had lots of garden beds around the yard that were in serious disrepair. Why did I deserve a nice shiny new garden bed when I wasn't taking care of the ones we had? 

He was right, but it's really hard to make over an entire garden bed that has been taken over by weeds and grass. Last time he mowed however, he had time to think about the garden situation, and came up with this solution: we get a nice herb garden set up, put everything from the current gardens that we want to save in it, and then completely redo the entire garden. 

It seems a little extreme, but it was a sound plan, and as it turned out - it worked! 

We talked about what kind of herb garden we wanted to set up, but just ended up with a pre-made all you have to do is bolt it together type from Bunnings. It was the most fuss free way to to go and worked out to be only a little more expensive anyway. We were lucky enough to have enough compost (from our two bins) and some of the dirt we dug out of the ground when we put the sandpit in, that it pretty much filled the garden. Hooray!

We filled it with that and then covered it and left it for about four weeks to try to kill the weeds. Lots of pumpkin seeds grew during that time (ambitious things), but they were easy to pull out. Then we tipped a little extra dirt in, a layer of newspaper and cardboard as an extra weed-prevention measure and finally some nice organic dirt to get things going.

We put in lots of things from the back garden bed, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and strawberries (I put the mint in a pot for safe keeping), and also some things from the pots, the capsicums, basil, oregano and thyme.  I think everything we transplanted into it has survived, though one of the capsicums looks like it might not and the thyme has only just started showing signs of life again.

Meanwhile the back garden bed languished for a while. Then we had a long weekend and nothing planned: game on! I pulled out things we wanted saving, (agapanthus, some succulents and ground covers) and then got to work just ripping everything else out. Steve was a machine with the mattock and did most of the heavy work. We weren't going to pull out a couple of the hibiscus bushes that we had, but after we had to cut them back to get at other things we were ripping out, it didn't seem worth keeping them.

Such a shame that I don't have before photos, because it was a real mess and now it looks amazing.

After everything was pulled out, and we had put in the edging (just sleepers from Bunnings), we laid out some cardboard (my precious, precious cardboard!) a bit of extra dirt and then planted the things we wanted to keep. Agapanthus went back in, and the Moses bushes that will hopefully multiply and be good cover. A trip to Bunnings for some extra plants, a few trees that will grow up and make nice privacy along the fence line, as well as things with pretty flowers.

It's hard to see in that top photo of the whole garden bed (which, I have to say, gives no credit to how fantastic the garden actually looks), but on the far right (behind the slide), there is a gap between the two trees and in the fence line, where we talk to the chickens who live next door. We had an old table top down for the kids to stand/sit on while they do that, but it was a little bit dangerous with spiders and snakes, so I had the idea of putting down some pavers for them to use instead.

Luckily for us, our friends decided to reno their back garden, which had previously been paved, and put down turf. Hello free pavers! You can read about that over at Working on It Dad, where my friend Wade writes about being a dad. I think it turned out rather nicely, though maybe not as level as it should be.


Finally, we covered everything with sugar cane mulch, which really gave it that professional finished look, if I do say so myself. The whole thing took three days of hard work, a rather large amount of daughter neglect, and we are so happy with the result. Can't wait for things to grow out a bit and fill the spaces.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Crib Companions Dress

A friend of mine from teaching days (woah, that seems like a lifetime ago now!) had recently released some artwork that you could buy as fabric or cards or paper. I, of course, wanting to support her, bought some fabric with her lovely print on it. It came in the mail last week and, being on holidays, I was able to sew up a quick dress in an afternoon. Yay!

My only regret is that I didn't get more, because both of my girls love the print, but there was only enough material for one dress. There are leftovers however, so maybe I'll be able to work something out with that later.

The lining is leftover fabric from somewhere else. It's simple dress to show off the fun print. If you like it, feel free to check out my friend's work at Crib Companions. You can order fabric with her prints from Spoonflower.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Denim Quilt

Notice I'm not calling it a Jeans Quilt? Because that would say it's similar to the other Jeans Quilts that have come before (see here and here). When in fact, it is not. It's still made of jeans, but also other stuff. And made in a different way. Thus, a different name.

Anyway. So you notice you have a pile of jeans like this lying around the house (or, more accurately, stashed in a cupboard, growing at an increasingly rapid rate). What to do, what to do!?

What else, but make a quilt! (Actually, there is loads of other things you can do with denim (see?), but quilts use lots of jeans in one go, which was the goal here.)

Anyway, I wish (as always) I'd taken more photos of the progress, but pretty much, you cut loads of circles out of denim and lots of squares of scrap fabric. You sew the circles together first and then put the squares of fabric in the middle. The way it all works out, the good side of the denim is the back of the quilt and the fabric side is the top. 

For this reason, this is a really cheep quilt to make. Because you don't need to buy batting (the stuff in the middle of the quilt), or binding, or backing fabric (which tends to be quite expensive because it's generally got to be quite large). Obviously it's not as warm as a quilt with batting in it, but because of the denim, it's still heavy and thus warm. 

This was the moment when I realised that even though I'd cut 120 circles and squares, I still needed twenty more of each, because the quilt just looked too short. Sigh. On the plus side, this is what the girls looked like at that point:

Which meant that getting the final bits cut and sewn wasn't actually that painful. Rachel did rouse herself to help me with the pins and sew parts as well. Sewing the squares in involves folding the flaps of the circles onto the squares and sewing around them. It gives the back of the quilt this fun floral circle pattern, which is nice.

It was hard to get a photo of this, not only because it is big, but also because when the girls saw what I was doing this happened:

I was running short on time and lighting (it was 4:45pm!) but I hope you get the idea.

I love looking at all the different scrap fabrics, again so much given to me by others! And some with long history - there is a scrap of fabric from the boxer shorts I made in grade eight Home Ec class! Yikes!

Ah fabric. From my mum, my friends, random strangers even! Fabric that I've seen the girls wear in dresses, or have used for their books, or bunting. Fabric that mum has in table cloths, or made me dresses when I was little.

Ok, I'll stop being nostalgic now and move on with life. Quilt made. Hope you like it.