stitching things together

Late last night I started stitching this little piece.
Black linen (a tea towel) with white-ish silk thread.
Sashiko style stitches.

I was thinking of my Cumulus Purses from years ago as I formed it.
Stitching by hand - the whole piece.

Oh golly. How can come thread and fabric stitched together make me feel so full and happy.

I plan this year to do more of What Makes Me Happy.
And thread and yarn do so make me happy.

Will you join in, in making happy xxx

I would like to organise some making creating gathering events - stitching friendship / making happy / eating delicious afternoon tea. Would you be interested in joining in, coming along, bringing your friends, making new friends. Creative Gatherings - an idea I'm working on with my neighbour.

the sacrificial lamb :: but not wool

So there are only a handful of days left until the end of month one of 2013. hmmmm. well. um..

The other day my neighbour said that January is like the sacrificial lamb.

And maybe she's right. It's been all about the holidays and just being with the kids and dealing with their needs (and their moans and their wants and and and......). But I'm just being with it. Have learnt that fighting it is no use; I neither get anything done nor feel good. So this way at least I'm feeling at peace with just being, and having lots of wonderful laughs with my family.

Which means that my 5 things list really isn't gonna happen. Nup. Giving that up. February it is for all the work stuff and making and me time.

So, what have I been doing. Well some of this. And it's been fun and my whole family is loving it and getting excited about it. Even the cat. Yep - the cat is excited about my crochet tshirt yarn rug.

I've had the start of this sitting in the cupboard for well over a year waiting patiently. The other day for no reason at all I pulled it out of the basket and started cutting up more tshirts and starting hooking. And kept on going. 

I've been told, by the tallest person in our family, that it needs to be big enough to lay on. I'll be needing some more tshirts from said person's cast-offs then, I do think.

This rug is a good use of old tshirts and a wonderful new addition to your floor. So quick and easy to stitch up as well - though do be prepared for lots of furry tshirt bits all over you and the floor (maybe don't be wearing black). I can write a tutorial if you want, but I do think that there's probably lots out there if you do a search. Also, mostly I'm just making it up and adding extra stitches as I see fit (and sometimes unpicking a little if need be). It's simple single and double crochet, using a size 10 crochet hook and hand-cut tshirt yarn. If you don't know how to cut your own tshirt yarn; well there's lots of videos and instructions for that as well. Oh this internet thing sure is good isn't it!!!

I haven't even managed to barely get onto my computer these past days, but perhaps I'll be back soon with some other little home-makings I've been doing.

Maybe it's not so much a sacrificial lamb as the making of yarns and tales {tails} with my own little lamblets. What do you think? 

*and before you ask - my kids are every bit as internet aware as you or I (probably more so really). They know that photos of one's feet is very bloggish/IGer-ish, so of course they wanted to do that. And of course, I obliged.

stitching blue

I am still enjoying working and playing with blues.
Blue on white.
Blue on black hemp - oh the texture still gets me, love it so.
I'm about to start on some natural linen and see where that takes me.

Wouldn't it be lovely to turn those dried shriveled pansies into a dye colour. Alas I think it wouldn't keep or stay too long on fabric. Wonderful for looking at and enjoying as is.

I'm also working with my blue/purple plant dyed yarn. So much of it still left; though I have more to dye in the coming weeks. {I am considering having it available at my upcoming market stalls, what do you think about that?}.

When I shared this white piece on Instagram (are on over there? I'm @petalplum if you want to follow), I was thinking about the braille pieces on Lisa Solomon's musings page. Oh I do love the way she leaves her thread tails hanging; good for an artwork, not so practical for the end uses I plan for these stitched pieces. I'll cut them off eventually, but am enjoying looking and playing with them for now.

*please excuse the wonky look of the blog. I am trying to find spare moments to update and change it, along with working on the Hey Maker! blog and new Big Cartel page.

pinwheels & sticks at World Environment Day

This Sunday we'll be having lots of fun (and hoping for the sunshine) at the wonderful World Environment Day Festival in our local town.

Us Hey Makers have been asked to present not one but two fun arty - making - crafty type activities. With all things recycled and natural and collected and gathered, we'll be there with supplies to make sweet little pinwheels. Come along and add them to the 'windfarm'! Of course, it's a silly and fun little statement on wind power.

We'll also have a pile of beautiful sticks gathered and collected from our forest floors. Dan and Justin will be on hand to help you with the making of a community art expression of space and linear viewpoints. I really can't wait to see how this evolves throughout the day with people adding their stick or twig or branch here and there across the park area.

Please come along, if you're local or even a short drive away. The whole day is a much needed fundraiser for our local Environment shop - The Caldera Environment Centre. This is the longest running, constantly opened, volunteer run environment centre in Australia. They celebrated their 21st Birthday last year. I think that's an amazing testament to the spirit and dedication of people in Caldera.

Full details can be found here. Come and say hi, won't you. {We'll also have our badge making machine, and some of our market stock for your to look at - lots on sale as well}.

threads - kinda sorta really lovin' these

just made some little pouches using bits of fabric scraps. oh - don't you just love fabric scraps!!!

and messy stitches. how can you go wrong with messy stitches, raw edges, and that delicious peachy-pink thread on the natural hemp.

but boy-oh-boy. super super lovin' it on the grey-ish pieces.
i dyed these pieces in a solar-dyeing bottle of rust and eucalyptus. um - love love!

i'm off back to my solar pots to add these natural linen and hemp pieces into some coffee and some red cabbage. can't wait to see how they look after a few days / week in the dye.

these little pouches are for my crochet stones - little nests, safe carrying places. these will be available for sale at the Sew & Tell market this Saturday. i'm so excited to launch my rock collection (small as it is at the moment, due to those cut fingers and big bandaids!!).

come and check them out, won't you?

something practical this time

I got this lovely lovely yarn on Friday, at a local op-shop (thrift store). It really was a lucky find - I'd gone to get cash from the machine, and when I came back to pay, the lady was putting it out for sale.  I said how much, she said '.....oh, $4?'. Yes yes!

A whole bag of yarn balls. 7 full + 2 with only a little bit already gone. 60% wool with 40% nylon - though it feels really soft and woolly. It's in the most delicious dove grey colour. Someone bought it a long time ago from Coles for about 0.75c, they still have the labels and price stickers.

I've been thinking I needed to start on a lovely blanket - so that's what I did. But then, lying beside the fire last night, Sam mentioned that we really do need some big floor cushions. So - this became a crochet floor cushion (still in the works). I'm planning it big, as big as I can go with the yarn I have. Perhaps I'll get two?

There's no pattern. I just started out as I know how - crochet in the round. And then I added five little corner tab bits (with double stitches and chain rows), to form a pentagon shape. It's just evolving as I work each new row. Changing stitches as I feel like it. I did say at some point today that I was already a little bored with it (after all this tiny rock crochet, this really is a big project for me) - but changing stitches helps to keep me going. And it really is quite yummy yarn. Soft and so easy to work. It's crocheting up quite quickly. And the whole family is taking interest in it, which really does help.

I was using orange embroidery thread as corner markers (oh, I do need to get me some stitch markers, don't I!). The orange was a perfect pop against the grey (especially on this overcast, rainy day). And then, a quick look in my tiny stash bag to discover some orange yarn for the occasional row or two.

It's sure to be ready in time for next Winter - I know myself too well. I get a great start on things, and then go now-where with it. Here's to a finished cushion before the 'lying in front of our fire season' is over!
 and this last one, taken by candle light, and the extra light of a torch. It's hard holding a heavy torch in one hand, and taking a photo with the other hand. I've realised (or thought about it) this week, that we have been living here for 15months now - with no electricity....... 
Crochet by candlelight seems to have become my life!

a little making and doing

Right now I'm doing some making and planning -
:: zippered pouch purses using my new fabric print lacework/leafwork in deep teal. I like the gold metal zips I've been using. I hope to get these on the website later this week
:: more crochet - little bits here and there. Making happy little mountains and stacks of crochet goodness
:: organising the next handcrafted market at the Tweed Gallery, coming up in June
:: planning the agenda for the school P&C meeting tonight; my first meeting as the new president...
:: planning and organising and getting excited about a little popup crafty event I'm doing in town with some other local creatives. It's sure to be lots of messy fun!

The weather is cold and breezy, it seems that Autumn is here. It's sunny outside, which I am very thankful for - but I expect the rain will be back soon.

What are you doing today?

heart-felt happiness and wishes of peaceful, joy and light

dear friends,
some little merry wishes for you all. i hope you are enjoying all your sweet making and planning and wrapping and enjoying and laughing.
i hope you are soaking up your holiday time with your children and family and friends. we went for a little walk in the forest today - it was good and lovely.

tomorrow we are having a gathering at my sister's house with all our family. all the cousins to play and run around and laugh and be silly and eat up all the delicious food that we have so enjoyed planning and making (today Mishi and I made hand rolled chocolates, in the morning i will make chickpea dahl and spicey brown rice),

i am still enjoying crocheting these little rocks. this one became a heart almost all on it's own. i will search for more tri-angle rocks, as this shape seems good for heart making. Ari has claimed this one for himself - which i am happy with. a piece of mama-made love for my boy.

keep safe, content, exploring, enjoying, and breathing. xxxxxx E

last minute

i really am a last minute kinda girl. it's not so much what i keep wanting, life just keeps making it happen / i keep making it happen.

anyway, my market is tomorrow. we haven't done a market stall for a year now (due to living here, with no facilities for proper making). i'm so glad we're doing this one - but also starting to wonder why i pushed myself into it when there was/is so much other stuff happening.

signs kept telling me that i shouldnt be doing it. but it was too late by then. when i went to screen print my tea towels on wednesday afternoon, i could hold the big big screen on my own properly so didn't get a good print. i washed up and went to help Sam do the concreting!
yesterday when i was sewing (my machine finally back from being serviced), the needle broke, the thread snapped at least three times, the bobbin kept running out at the wrong time, the zips wouldn't sew, i was doing lots of unpicking.
the wind outside picked up, the rain came down. i breathed and breathed. my dad came home and said keep going, don't stop, do more, sew more. so i did - even though my tummy was grumbling and all signs were saying to stop.

more work to do today, market tomorrow. my sister is coming over to help me label and price and make some of our mirrors + badges. we'll also get a much needed chance to chat with no kids. yah to that! i'll stress and rush and stay up late, and then be all shiny and excited at the market tomorrow. doesn't matter does it - the lead up to the market. it all starts again on the morning doesn't it. like the opening of a show. once the curtains are up, all mistakes and forgotten lines don't matter. you smile and chat and have fun (and hopefully take home a lighter car load). and then get to sleep in the next morning.

just had to put this cherry photo in. makes me happy to look at it. aside from being addicted to instagram, it has actually been a good tool for me doing little styled shots of different things. doing it regularly (which i don't get to do with the big camera) is something that makes it keep happen. it's a good thing to keep practicing.

{these are some photos that Ari took, on my phone, while we were all posing for a photo shoot for the local newspaper. i quite like his little viewpoints - there were a few not so nice ones..... we made the front page of the newspaper - that's pretty cool, hey! this is in Helle's super cute and creative studio space, that's her on the very left with the spotty cup. also at the shoot were Lyn (the President of the Friends of the Gallery), Judy and Nikki (out of shot). i love the shot of Helle looking out the window}.

hooked! addicted!

Despite telling other people (myself really!), that I don't have an addictive nature. I think I do.........


:: addicted ::
while I haven't been around these blog-parts lately, I've been in Insta-land. I've made some new friends over there, and deepened relationships with others (who I made in this here blog-land). As it so happens - both Jacqui and I now know that our daughters have the same Barbie doll, yet in different colours!
You know what, I've also taken some really cool photos in Insta-land. Some I really love! I think, seeing as how it's my blog and all, I'm allowed to blow my own trumpet about how good the photos are.
Also - I'm having a relationship with my husband on We 'like' each others pictures, sometimes he's in the kitchen and I'm on the verandah - a mere metre away from each other. Isn't technology good!

I'm sending all my photos to flickr, if you want to see them. Or over here, as well. Or, if you have one of 'those phones', you can follow me. If you want........ And then we can be Insta-addicted together!

:: hooked ::

a couple of weeks ago, I went with a friend to do some crochet with the very talented and witty Helle Jorgenson. She has a sweet little studio space in my town, Murwillumbah. To be honest, when I moved back down here (to this little country town), I didn't know if there were any (well, many) cool and crafty people. So, actually are. Helle is one of them! {Check out her blog, she makes the most amazing crochet coral and sea creatures using the tiniest hooks, and some great alternatives 'yarns'}.
While I knew how to crochet before the class, what Helle did was take my hand and show me some new things, and helped me overcome my fear of using teeny weeny tiny crochet hooks. Some of her work is done using a .5mm. That's tiny!

So - since last Thursday, I've barely had the 2mm hook and some cotton yarn out of my hands. Well - we did have to do concreting on Friday; I couldn't really crochet at the same time as that! (photographic proof below - I wheeled that heavy barrow of concrete for a solid most-of-the-day)!

Helle and I made little crochet covered beach stones, like Margie's. There's a pattern on Purl Bee (it has some errors, so I just made bits up and went along merrily......).
With hook and yarn in hands, and the light of a candle, I've been doing some experimenting at home (late at night), some unraveling and some stitching/hooking/crocheting. I made myself a little necklace of crochet flower shapes (and promptly it!). And then some more. I finished one for my sister to wear to work (we stayed up chatting until 1am one night; of course the kids got us up at 6.30 the next morning....). I'm currently working on one using some op-shopped cotton yarn, in a colour I'm calling berry. It's a bit of a thicker weight, but is still turning out very pretty.

And now, seeing as how my sewing machine has decided it doesn't want to play (when I really MOST need it for my market making), I'm wondering if I should make these little necklaces for selling at the market.......... {what do you think? Would you buy one?}

Oh yes - I'm probably addicted to chocolate too. But really, that's all..... There's nothing more to reveal.

I'll see you on with a hook in hand!

{love} the Nani Iro double gauze wedding quilt

 I so enjoyed making this. Every single part of it; from choosing the fabrics, and receiving it in the post, to designing and cutting and sewing. Then laying it out on our bed, deciding on how best to 'quilt' it, what stitching lines, etc.

I use the term 'quilt' quite loosely. As this doesn't have any intricate 1/8th of inches measurements or design fancies like that. And there's no binding - that is still something that is beyond my mental process abilities; though I do have feelings that if I just sat down and did it, then the binding wouldn't be too much of an issue - just have to leap that wall in my head telling myself it's too hard!

I used a bamboo + cotton batting, which is really soft, not too thick. This isn't a deep Winter snowing country quilt; more like a light Autumn / Spring NZ weather quilt. 

It was Sam's suggestion of the slightly waving lines of quilting, rather than straight lines following the straight rectangles of fabric. It's good having someone around to help with things like that - who looks at things properly (rather than a fleeting glance), and thinks about it. It wouldn't have worked with straight lines, the waves are exactly what this quilt needed. 

Working with the Nani Iro is so so so lovely. I could have done basically anything with these designs and colours and it would have been beautiful. The whole collection of fabrics I bought are simply divine (except this one, which was a totally different colour in real than on screen, and I'm not sure I can use it for anything - perhaps I'll overdye it at some later stage). The double gauze is soft, buttery, luscious, delicious; it's beautiful beautiful beautiful to feel, to snuggle up to. 

The only one 'thing' (problem/issue?) with the double gauze that I found was the top piece of fabric/layer (each piece of fabric is two layers of gauze, hence the name "double gauze", and I sewed two pieces of fabric together, which meant four layers of gauze) slipped forward while I was sewing. My feed dog obviously took the bottom piece of fabric, while the top piece clung slightly to my machine foot and didn't move along at the same pace.* This meant that there were little puckers at the end of each seam (as the fabric on the top slipped so it was longer than the fabric underneath); but I think they didn't matter too much, in the end. And the little puckers will only add to the beauty of the quilt, as it ages and washes and puckers more and more; won't it!

While sewing this, for my dear friend's wedding gift, I remembered things about our growing up together. The plays and performances and shows and art works and stories and feuds and making up and teenager-hood and growing and learning together. Becoming parents at similar times, though on the other side of the world to each other, being able to find our similarities and remember our childhoods together. 

That's what makes a quilt isn't it. The reasons why, and the memories, and the because, and the love. So, really, I can call this a quilt, rather than a throw or a blanket or something else. It's layers of beautiful fabric {our life} stitched together with thread {memories, love, tears, laughter, loss, growth}, and squashed around soft batting to keep us warm, cosy and loved. 

*You know when you're on one an escalator and the bit you're standing on goes slower than the bit your hand is resting on; you end up slightly pulled in your body - arm forward, legs with the rest of your body.
**I'm having issues with blogger saying that I've used up my free photo space (on PicasaWeb Album). Does anyone have hints on how to easily/quickly upload photos from Flickr in a batch. I only know a stupidly tedious way.......
More photos over here - if you want to see all the beautiful close ups that my new camera takes. 

on learning to breathe {embroidery with children}

This afternoon we got all my fabrics out (from the big piles of boxes that I brought home from the studio, in anticipation of sorting and organising and culling), to decide which ones we would use to make this little project. While we were planning what fabrics to mix&match, and how many girlish or boyish types ones we would need, we also talked about what gift we may make for the teachers. 

I had originally suggested I would make some hand-cut-stencil screen printed tea towels, from the kid's drawings. Well, I ran out of time for that - with only two days left of the school year. We eventually decided on some little embroidered coasters for them to use in the classroom. (That's after Ash looked through my crafting books and presented me with numerous day-long, one yards' worth of fabric  projects). 

So, all afternoon we had the embroidery threads and some large eyed needles for the kids, and little embroidery hoops. And some lovely designs. I must say that I was totally amazed and impressed with how all three of them had changed since last time I embroidered with them (which I must admit was too long ago). 
Ash got straight into it, threading his needle, and only needing help to tie knots and separate the six strand threads into three strands. He quickly finished one - a beautiful spiral - and set about putting his other fabric into place on the hoop, and then completed his next one with even more thought and concentration - a bird with mountains in the background.
Ari decided that he didn't want to make coasters; instead he made a piece to hang on the wall, that will stay in the wooden hoop. He needed help threading the needle and tying knots but no help at all with the size or length of his stitches. Straight away he knew what design he wanted, and thought carefully about the colours and placement of stitches. Last time he sat and did embroidery he continued to loop the thread around the wooden hoop, meaning lots of work for me to have to unstitch the errors and keep fixing it; and lots of frustration from him. This time there were only two times that happened, and Ash managed to fix it each time, with no frustration from Ari. 
Mishi took it upon herself to make a wall piece as well, and happily stitched little blops of colour and threads around her fabric, and sometimes around the hoop as well. At one stage I looked over and noticed she had new colour on her needle - she had cut the thread to length and threaded the needle all on her own. She kept on happily the whole time, cutting and rethreading the colours she wanted, telling the boys 'just do it like I am'.

I only wish I could have had a few more moments of sitting and enjoying it with them, rather than being constantly asked to snip threads of change colours and rethread the needle or  get more fabric, and some other thing. It was a noisy afternoon indeed. But, much more relaxing than any other activity we've done for quite a while, and with wonderful looks of concentration and thought about what each teacher would like. Learning to stop and breathe, to not worry about the things I'm not doing, and enjoy what I am doing. That's my constant lesson - if I only have one moment in each day that is more than nothing.

I didn't, of course, actually get the time to start cutting the pieces for the school kid gifts. And so declared to Ari that we would not being giving any of the kids gifts, as I would prefer to spend my time making something for him (or another family member) than for 25+ school kids. {What a mean mumma I am! Or perhaps one who is thinking a little more sensibly than the one who offered to make such gifts with only 2-3 days left of school term....}.
{no embroidery session would be complete without Barbie and a kid-made plane}

So, anyway - I will be turning Ashey's little pieces into coasters, and Ari's will need backings on them to use as wall hangings. If I get up early enough in the morning, they may be able to give them as gifts tomorrow. 

PS - this fabric arrived today in the post. What fast service and beautifully wrapped little piece. Oh, I can't wait for the rest* to arrive (tomorrow??). I'm so excited about the quilt making.... think I will really have to make one for myself as well. 

* I just noticed that they have my absolute favourite Fucca in aubergine and teal. It is taking every ounce of will power to not click on the buy now button, as I know these sell out quickly.

things for {other} kids

Ari and I have been talking, for a short while (as I'm not too organised with the gift doing this year), about what he might want to give any of the kids from his class as little end of year treasures. Generally I'm not much in for having to give gifts to random (as in 23+) kids, especially as christmas gifts. But, I'm thinking of it more as the fact that he's had a great year at school, and they really are a lovely bunch of little kids (5-6yr olds), and that we're not going to be here next year.
I haven't been able to think of anything that a) doesn't cost a heap of money to buy/make b) doesn't take me hours and hours of thought and making process & c) isn't something that they'll either throw in a corner in their room, to become a pile of stuff.
We all know how those piles of stuff build up. 

And then, I came across this lovely tutorial. Quick, easy, colourful, I can use basically whatever fabrics I have in my stash, and make a whole stack in a few hours. This is perfect for little kids - they can store treasures, collecting cards, stones, or sweet little hankies. I am not a tissue person - in case you haven't guessed that aspect about me (one less wasted tissue, I think) - so I'll be searching for some (cheap) but pretty hankies to include in this pouches. I suppose I could sew up my own hankies; but what sort of fabric would I use?? 

If you have any other ideas of things I could make, instead, please let me know. I'm planning on bringing my sewing machine home from the studio, and will have to get these made over the next few days. As there is one week of school left. WOW - that's gone so quickly....

PS - it's raining again, here. Sylv + I have decided not to do the Southbank YDM today, as I really don't want my clothing range to get wet and damp in our soggy weather. There's no end to the rain anytime soon....

*images used with kind thanks from Sew Mama Sew & JCasa *handmade. Thanks Jennifer for this perfectly timed tutorial. And weather radar from Bureau of Meteorology.

lofty goals

I keep telling myself, quietly in my head, that I really want to start and complete just a few lovely quilts for my family before our next Winter. (It's just coming up to Summer here, so I have at least six or so months).
I'm thinking a lovely blue-ish sort of one for Ari. I've even been collecting the fabrics, not sure if they're right or not, but I suppose i should make a start anyway to see how it will go.

There's one I made for Mishi quite a while ago, in pinks and greens (some old Joel Dewberry and just as 'vintage' Amy Butler), which still hasn't been bound. We do use it, on our couch, with the horrible edges poking out - but the fear of learning how to bind it is putting me off finishing it.
I'm wanting something very special to make for Sam's + my bed. Perhaps some beautiful soft creamy white hemp. I've been thinking of white, black and grey. Hemp, organic cotton and hand screen printed images - very intriguing sorts of ideas, something a bit obscure with detail that you have to look closely at. Of course, it will turn out quite differently than the vague images in my head.
And then I'd like to have a couple of little lap quilts, for our couch. For snuggling and reading or hand sewing or perhaps even finishing off some crochet (I started late in Winter, and may finish some time next Winter?!).
Not to mention one that I've been working on since May. Stitching by hand, slowly here and there. Which lately hasn't had any hands touching it, and does need some more attention to be finished so it can go to it's intended new owner.

Tiel is so much further along on her quilt list. I actually remember seeing (at least a year or more ago) her doing some hand piecing on the one she talks about having sitting on her bed. It makes me realise that we all continue to add things to our long list of to-dos, while we are all so caught up in reality of daily living. And how things so easily continue to be put away, especially lovely quiet quilts that don't demand our daily attention. 
Amanda looks like she's so very close to fulfilling her high Summer wish of completing five knitted jumpers for her family for her Winter. Throughout a busy-filled year, she has taken moments here and there to work on her pieces. Reminding me that each moment really does count; that things can be completed bit by slow tiny bit, and I don't need to expect to start and finish something at once. 

I'd love to hear your quilt, knitting, crochet, sewing to-do list. The plans that you have, be they dreams or closer to reality. What are you making?

buttons & a recipe for a lovely saturday afternoon

Recipe {1} :: How to make a lovely Saturday afternoon ::
It's raining. The kids are playing with our next door neighbour boys (at their house, not mine......). I'm sitting here, with my second coffee for the day - will think about lunch when the kids come home complaining of hunger! We'll go to (their) grandma's this afternoon.* 

I'm listening to my own music (not the kid music which is on constant repeat around here. At least they've got good taste in kid music, so I don't mind having it on, but it's always good to have something a bit more grown-up).

I've been writing the big list for everything I need to do and get done before the big market (more on that later). It's more than a bit scary writing it down, and counting how few studio days I have between now and then, and we'll be away in Cairns for a week during that time as well. Family - if you are reading this - I'll be calling on some major baby-sitting and help with labeling and packing and such stuff market stuff - that you've all become accustomed to anyway.

It also feels good to be writing lists. And making real plans. For me, and for Red Seed and for my new directions. I am super excited about my new fashion range. I do like a good list to work off, and I haven't had a big event to work towards (business / creative / me wise) all year. So this is good.

Recipe {2} :: How to make buttons ::
For my little contribution to the lovely and fun ABCD gift bag giveaway, I decided to make some cookies (biscuits**). While putting it all together, I was reminded how much I like doing that aspect of event organising. (like party bags and things like that). Making the labels and tags and thinking through how it will all look. It's fun to do. A good combination of my creative and organised / planner sides. The production line of the final putting together didn't go quite as planned, due to a few reasons. 1) I left it late in the day to start baking, and then packaging up - so was rushed. That's simply the way I work, I know it now. Inspiration always stricks at the 11th hr! 2) All three kids (Ash was here too) were really excited to help me. They did the biscuits shape making, and the putting it all into bags and attaching the labels. We went through a few variations before settling on the easiest + quickest of holding it all together with a paper clip. I did want a hole punch + twine, but was too hard for the kids to do neatly enough for my likes (some things I can't let totally go of). Don't worry - the kids washed their hands about 20 times with warm water and soap while doing the making...

I got the inspiration for making button shaped cookies from Cupcakes, Cheesecakes Cookies. I'm not going to show you their shortbread buttons as ours didn't quite look as beautifully button-ish, like theirs. To our defence, we were 3 young kids + a rushed mama and we made about 140 or so, whereas they were a professional kitchen and they only made about 20 in total. Just saying.
I was pretty happy with the way they did turn out anyway. And I was really impressed by the way Ari stayed so dedicated to the job of putting the holes in all those round dough pieces. Mish + Ash did a fair bit of raw-dough eating, and silly shape making, but Ari stuck to it until they were all completed.

We made two flavours. I'm only going to give you the recipe for one, as it was my favourite. Of course, I didn't actually follow the recipe in the book. Oh no, I couldn't do anyway as simple as that - could I! We sort of started following a basic cookie recipe, but strayed so much that I think it's fair to say it's our own recipe. Here it is ::

Cardamom & Pear Button Cookies ::
1/3 cup oil (use melted butter if you like, or an oil with no distinct taste)
1/4 cup sugar (whatever sort you choose, brown probably best - I used raw, as we had no brown)
2 eggs
25 - 30 cardamom pods - crush and grind the seeds really well (remove the pod hard skins). We use a stone mortar and pestle. (which is invaluable in my kitchen).
1/4 cup pear concentrate syrup
1 1/2 cups wholewheat flour (S.R or use plain with a pinch or two of bicarb)

In your mixer (machine or by hand) beat really well the oil, sugar + eggs. They'll make a nice thick oozy mixture. Add the cardamom and pear concentrate. Then the sifted flour, and mix nice and gently (by hand). It should be a stiff mixture - if not add more flour until you can knead it easily. Roll it out between two sheets of baking paper to about 3mm thick. Using a round cookie cutter, cut until you've used all the mixture. (You'll need to rework and reroll it as you go, use some extra flour if it gets too sticky). Using the back flat part of a wooden skewer to make two or four holes, like a button. You can also use a fork around the edges if you want to make decorations like that (we didn't as the kids' didn't have a light enough touch, and just squashed the dough our of shape). 
Bake in at 180C, checking after 5 minutes, and perhaps turning them over. You don't want to burn your buttons, you just want a nice slightly light brown colour. Perhaps 10 - 12 mins at total most. Cool on a tray and serve at your next crafty get-together. 
I had some mixture that I didn't make into buttons, and rolled into a long round about 5cm thick. I then pinched smallish bits off and baked them like that, until nicely cooked. They had a different taste, as they we softer inside. I'm calling them Pinch Cookies. Give it a go, the rough edges got cooked in varying amounts, which meant some bits were more burned and some bits gooier than others. Yum. 
You could also freeze the log, until you need it, and use a sharp knife to cut into rounds. Which means you can make freshly baked cookies at the drop of a pin, or a button!
*yes, their grandad does live there too, but must face reality that grandma is the major drawcard and the one they especially love visiting. I know they do love you just as much grandad - it's just that, well.... you know anyway.

** does anyone know the difference between 'cookie' and 'biscuit'? I always thought it was the Australian / British word compared to American word. But then somewhere along the line I read that biscuit was factory made and cookie was homemade. I've been thinking that I do like the word cookie more, but then wonder if it's too American-ish for my Aussie friends. And cookie also makes me think of cookie-cutter (see alternate definition for what I mean), which is generic and not at all handcrafted, artistic.....
(By the way - I'm not entirely what one would call "Aussie" in any sense of the word. In fact, at school people used to think Sylv + I were English as we actually spoke correctly, and finished our words rather than dropping the last letter, as is very Aussie. "Ya' kno', 'ey" translates as "You know, don't you". Hey (or 'ey) being a particularly Aussie sentence ending sort of word.)

creative spot in the sun

Today I cleaned the house, as I had a dear visitor coming over for a cup of tea. We've all just sat in the sun and chatted for an hour or so. 
The kids are due back from school momentarily (with Sylv + Mishi), and I'm enjoying listening to Lisa Mitchell's "Wonder".

Lately I've been doing this bit of crochet everywhere I go. Waiting for the school bell to ring,;sitting at kids' birthday parties; on the couch around the warmth of a friend's fire (hi Grace + Deb); or at the market, chatting with friends.

It's delicious organic wool, in deep earth and blossom. I'm working on simple lines of single crochet, using up one ball until it's gone then changing to the next ball wherever I am on the line (middle, end, whatever - to save from having little bits of scraps of perfectly fine + expensive wool not be used). It will be a blanket, in time for Winter next year. I'll simply stop stitching when I've had enough, and that's how big it'll be. A lap blanket. It's like a cherry ripe; choc + berry {colours look a bit blown out in the full-on sunlight}.

Also, I'm finally putting on paper the house that has been floating around in my head for many years. Considering we are looking at land, and moving ever so slowly closer to that aspect of life; I feel that we should start properly planning our new home we want to build and live in. Also, good to let Sam know how big I aim to have my sewing room, and a little desk in the corner somewhere for writing letters and dreams and things. 

Sunshine and a clean house. Kidney beans simmering on the stove top for dinner tonight (no more buying of tinned food for us!). Heart-warming conversation and deep strong hugs from friends, and sisters. What else does a girl need?

There's some yummy Liberty points over at the hostess with the mostess, and her loyal creative spaces.

marbles and gaffa tape

Dad's are so super important, aren't they.
I'm so thankful that I had an amazing, inspiring, thoughtful, funny, and strong (yet gentle) dad. But this isn't about my dad, it's about my kids' dad.

Monday was our last day of school holidays. It's also Sam's rdo (he works retail, so has Sun+Mon as his weekend). I was up to the eyeballs (literally - the eyeball talk has been going crazy here) with the kids. The holidays were fun, but also tiring. And the two weeks was long, and demanding.
Anyway. I'd bought Ari a little bag of marbles as a treat while we were away at my grandmas.{Mishi requested the blue Barbie dress she'd seen at the supermarket, and even though I'm totally against buying that sort of thing, and spending $11 on something like that, I decided to give in and get it for her. This once only. And, if you buy something for one kid, you really have to get something for the other kid - don't you}.

The kids have been talking marble runs for quite a while now. Ari makes them at school. He really loves them. And, they're lots of fun, and creative. And use up lots of bits of things. So, Sam and Ari set about cutting the tubes and boxes and old milk bottles, and gaffa-taping them to each other, and to old cds and such. Until they had a giaganticly wonderful construction.
{Gaffa tape is pretty much a staple in Sam's repertoire of mending and making and sticking and fixing. My dad, too, has a million uses for it - even though he can very easily sew, he uses gaffa tape to hem his pants; let me tell you that it lasts a good many times through the washing machine as well}.
The giggles that erupted from both kids, while I was taking these photos were priceless. Well - the cost of a bag of marbles for $3.46 (or something like that). And the endless hours of fun we'll have with putting those little balls of glass rolling down the shute. 

Have a look at this inspirational blogging dad, and his cereal box marble run. So much fun. Go and dig through your recycling bin right now for a suitable box. Well, actually - first have a look at all the other wonderful things he makes for his kids. I do love reading Made By Joel - I seem to revolve in a mostly female blogger world, so having a dad's viewpoint is so necessary, don't you think?

my creative space {warm cocoa and the world}

I'm making some new mirrors for the markets this weekend. I'll have my usual fabric ones - some beautiful snippets of fabrics to see - but I'm also working on a new collection of world exploration. Sort of!
A short while ago, I put the (email) call out to my close family members, asking for any maps they might have that I could have, if they no longer needed them. Many many thanks to Jean to handed over a pile of fantastic world exploration. 
Some of the maps were from old Australian Geographic + National Geographic {yes people, there is a difference - I used to work at the Australian one}, and Ari's taken a real interest in some of them, so they went his way.
I've been loving using little land shapes, places I've visited, places I've wanted to visit, places one day I may visit, some I won't. That's okay - I can visit them in my dreams, can't I? {pPus I always tell my kids that they can go adventuring on their own one day, they won't need me to take them. They are quite surprised when I tell them they can go off into the world on their own}.
Being a coldish Winter (yes Winter is now officially here), we're having warm cocoa and melty-cheese corn chips with guacamole for morning tea. After that fuels me on, I'm headed down to the cold (and very messy) craft room to get some screen printing done for custom orders and for market folks.

More creatives are playing over here.

saying yes

Sometimes I just keep saying no.
For many reasons
It's too hard
too annoying
too messy
too much effort

I'm too mean
too lazy

couldn't be bothered.
Yes, I am a mean mother
aren't I?

Anyway. Yesterday when Mishi asked me to make playdough I said

And you know what.
It was easy and fun and lovely and resulted in many glorious hours of happy play. Yesterday and today, and probably tomorrow as well, at least.

Recipe :: 1 cup of flour {don't use expensive organic, like I did - but then again, if it's all you have in the cupboard, then just finally say yes and do use it!} 
:: 1/2 cup salt 
:: 1/2 cup of water {we steeped some Karkady flowers (Hibiscus tea) in hot water to get a beautiful light pinkish colour}
:: 1 teaspoon of tumeric powder makes a lovely soft yellow colour

{More wonderful reasons why you don't need to go and buy that fake food colouring}.
Let your kids mix the flour, salt + tumeric (or omit if you're making the pink colour), then add the water (or brewed tea for pink colour) bit by bit until you have a good kneadable consistency. It shouldn't be too doughing or wet - just add more flour if you need. Keep it in the fridge in a container, when not in use.
Give the kids a flat, easy to clean surface with some rolling pins, cookie cutters, and their imaginations. 
Then go off and have a few quiet moments on your own - or stand and watch the beauty that comes from saying yes.

{old faded laminex table and daggy kitchen floor with thanks to our house}
{chip in blue cup courtesy of our teeny tiny ceramic kitchen sink - cute, but inconvenient}
{Mishi's hair-do by herself - a look she sports most every day at the moment, in some form or other}
{lovely yellow tea towel is from here - currently on sale, though they've been in our home for at least a year or more}.

doing ::

i have a long list of need-to-get-done. writing it here may keep me accountable to finishing it all in a timely manner. some things on my list are work related, some are personal, and some for the family.

work ::
write business plan + financials
think of name for this new venture
get a wiggle along with sewing stock for the Racecourse Rd Steet Party Market
organise new business cards, swing tags, etc to be printed
(this is the edited list)

family ::
finish bag with Ari
make kids at least two new outfits each
source fabric for quilt for Ari - I'd love your advice on any fabrics you can suggest that a 5yr old boy may appreciate
finish binding on Mishi's quilt
make fabric baskets / buckets for kids room for storage
make shorts for Sam
make placemats for dining table (can you believe we only have store bought ones!)

me ::
finish organising craft room
cover + hang all my inspiration boards
get through my mound of paperwork (which includes doing our tax)
make myself some pin cushions (only have some piddly little thing that looks like an over spiked echidna)
make some new skirts + dresses for myself for Summer
make one of these lovely little rabbits for a cousin (who's about to have her baby)
read through my new craft books and actually make some projects from them
make some new cushions for the chairs in my craft room. something like this

So, where to start.......
Please follow me along, as I attempt to cross things off my list.

** Bamboo photo was taken at Sydney Botanical Gardens, while on my holiday; it saddens me the way people write on plants like this, yet is also looks quite interesting.
And one of Mishi + me, playing games last night (using the computer photobooth camera).