Are you really living?

I mentioned in passing the other day that I purchased an ergonomic chair.

A real bargain. I found it for $8 at our local Op shop (second-hand store for those not from Australia). Can you believe it. $8. I didn’t need convincing, I’ve been spending a bit of time at my computer lately and the promise of me sitting up straight along with the fact that it matched our ridiculous red carpet, had me at the counter in seconds of spotting it.

I also bought 2 cardigans for a bit of re-fashioning (see here).

P1040635 crop

When I made it to the counter I was under no illusion that all of these items were once well-loved prior to me purchasing them. I was happy with my little bargains.

The amusement for the day though, came from the quirky little man who served me.

“Oh both brand new, never been worn!” He declared as I put the cardigans on the counter. I just smiled, perhaps he had failing eyesight that limited his ability to notice the worn-to-a-thread labels.

When I presented the stool there was more. “Oh you’ve got yourself a bargain there – good English birch that.”

Was he joking! Constructed from pine, padding and fabric and held together with screws and staples. This $8 bargain was anything but good English birch.

You judge for yourselves, does it look like good English birch to you?

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So amused I laughed to myself all the way home. But then, I started thinking.

What made this man feel like he had to lie? I had already bought the items. Was he trying to make me feel good? Did he think I was stupid?

As a child I was drilled on the perils of lying. As an adolescent I struggled to understand those that didn’t tell the truth. Now, in adulthood I don’t have the time, inclination or energy to lie. In fact, it is a trait that I dislike immensely and really don’t understand.

Don’t get me wrong, honesty is not a crowd pleaser, as I have found out numerous times. Cheating boyfriends, lying friends and somehow you become enemy number 1 for a short time.

But I have found, with honesty and integrity comes no regrets and a sense of satisfaction like no other. This is what I hope to pass on to my children.

So although this man gave me reason on my ordinary day to have a chuckle, and his lies were seemingly harmless. My thoughts led to me feeling sorry for him and his need to spin a yarn. Surely his truth would be far more interesting.

After all, if you aren’t living with truth and honesty, are you really living?

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Sew Simple: Cardigan to Beanie

A few months ago Ashleigh at Make It – Love It posted a refashion of old jumpers into Beanies for her baby (see here). I loved the idea and her cute little embellishments so I stored the idea away until we reached colder weather.

I was quite excited to discover that our little town has an Opportunity Shop. On one of my outings I decided to check it out. Oh the bargains I found. Two cardigans and an ergonomic chair for the grand sum of $16.

I had a few spare minutes recently and decided to have a play with one of the cardigans. I created a beanie for Eve, but let me assure you, it wasn’t without it’s errors.

It wasn’t as simple as I first thought. Or maybe I didn’t think and rushed a little too much? Either way the below is a summary of my results after my initial errors.

Ashleigh’s pattern was for her baby and I knew that it wouldn’t work for children/adults because of the shape of our heads. I adjusted the pattern and had a bit of a play. Other than putting a cuff on the beanie I left out the embellishing until next time when the pattern was right.

I ended up making two beanies, one working and in use, the second needing more alteration and love.Cardigan to Beanie

Here’s what has worked for me so far (see below for a simple diagram to go with the instructions):

  • Cut a rectangle with the width of the rectangle equalling the circumference of the head you are fitting + seam allowance. And the height equalling the depth you need + seam allowance.
  • Embellish and/or add cuffs to your beanie as you need. Keeping in mind that the seam sewing the two short edges of your rectangle will run up the back of the head. For my cuff, I folded up the bottom edge of the cardigan and used the hem as I really liked the stitching.
  • With right sides together sew up the short edges of your beanie. Overlock if required.
  • Overlock around the top (where the beanie sits in the middle of your head) of the beanie, just to stop the edge from fraying when you stitch it.
  • Keeping your beanie inside out. Put a running stitch around the top of the beanie and pull tight to create a gather. Add a few more stitches across the gather to keep it tight and together.
  • Flip your beanie the right way out and you are done.

Beanie Graphic003

Now this method still needs some work so I will let you know how I go. My little customer was very happy with her beanie and has used it a bit now it is getting cold.

I know that it seems like there is some bulk at the top but this actually works well with pony tails. When I tried to angle the fabric at the top it looked really misshapen on the head, I found the gather was more flattering.

Don’t forget to keep the rest of the cardigan, you could make gloves, mittens or leg warmers from the sleeves. Use the buttons for another project.

Any other ideas? I’d love to hear them.

Good luck.

Sharing over at The 36th Avenue:

The 36th AVENUE

SUPER EASY–Whole Orange Cake

I occasionally pop over and visit a wonderful blog called “Down To Earth”. It is written by a lovely lady called Rhonda Hetzel.

Book Cover:  Down to EarthRhonda has just released her first book of the same name. It is a comprehensive guide to simple living.

I bought it for myself on Mothers Day and have not been disappointed. It is a beautiful book full of wonderful little gems of information on how to run a simple but wholesome household.

At the very back of the book is a recipe for a “Whole Orange Cake”. It looked so easy to make that I thought I would give it a go. Again, Rhonda didn’t disappoint. This is not only one of the easiest cakes I’ve ever made, it is also full of orangey goodness.

Everything goes in the food processor….how easy.Cake process

My hubby didn’t think it was quite sweet enough, but I have to disagree, I love the not-so-sweet taste that oranges give to cake. I also love almonds with orange so I think I will try a version with almond meal at some stage. I’ll let you know how I go and if it works when I try.

I only have one tip when making this recipe. I have a fan forced oven and so next time I’m going to drop the temperature to 160C and cook for a bit longer because the bottom of the cake burnt slightly.

I’ve typed the recipe out for you here (Whole Orange Cake). If you are interested in the book you can find it online here or at any good bookstore.

Enjoy.

Shared over at Desiree’s beautiful site.

The 36th AVENUE

Committees – Get involved.

I’ve mentioned more than once about our “tree change” at the end of last year. Basically we moved from the busy Melbourne suburbs to a town which reads “Population 1200” on the sign. Although our neighbours tell me it’s been like that for at least the last 6 years!

We settled on our little house in November last year but didn’t move until our eldest finished school at the end of December.

Five months. That is all we have been here. However, I already feel like we are “home”. It is a truly wonderful feeling. The people are so accommodating, our house is cosy and we are enjoying being close enough to both sets of grandparents for day trip visits.

The troops – 3 kids and 2 dogs on the way to the farmers market.

Over the last five months, we have gone from not knowing a single soul in this town, to being able to walk down the street and say hello to quite a few of the people.

As hubby works in the city all day, he hasn’t met as many people, but still made the comment on the difference between our first visit to the farmers market, where we knew no-one, to our most recent visit where we spent half the morning having lovely chats with people we’ve met.

We have met people through Hannah’s school, Eve’s kinder, people in the same street and of course the local shop owners. Last night, however, I realised that a majority of the people I have met have been through us volunteering with the school and kindergarten.

I didn’t even think about it way back when we were living in Perth and Hannah’s playgroup needed someone on the committee. Sure why not. My parents had always been involved with our kinder and school committees, why couldn’t I.

It has amazed me over the last 5 years how scared people are of going on committees. I have to admit when I first went to a meeting I too was scared. I’m no board member. I haven’t run big organisations. What could I provide that was valuable?

But none of the above is really the point. It’s not about you.

What you are providing the committee is a little time and effort. Man power to keep the organisation/club running.

What you put in, the committee gives out in spades to your kinder/school/sport group. This in turn means you are helping your own children and community, have access to better facilities.

The reality is, without committees these valuable resources would cease to exist.

The more people who help out, the easier it is: “Many hands make light work” as the saying goes.

This year the Kindergarten committee I am on, is filled with fabulous ladies. There are so many of us that each of us spends about 2-3 hours a month towards the kinder. That is all!

Some of the women are true blood locals, others are a year in, some are like me and have just moved here. We all have children, some are stay at home mums, others work, some have girls, some have boys. We don’t all have business degrees and we are all busy. Once a month though, we put on our kinder hats, sit down and just make sure everything is running smoothly.

Of course there is always a cuppa, something to nibble and a bit of chatter about what is going on around town along the way.

These women have made my everyday a lot easier, without even realising that they are doing it.

Our local farmers market

Whatever your situation, I whole heartedly recommend joining a committee. There is nothing but positives to come out of it for everyone involved.

What have you got to lose? At the end of the day if you do join a committee and you don’t like it, you can always leave.

Sewing: A quiet Saturday night.

Saturday night I was home alone with the girls, while hubby went to see his beloved Sydney Swans play in Melbourne.

With the kidlets in bed (always early when dad isn’t here), I decided to make the most of the quiet and do a little sewing.

Having three girls, we have endless boxes of clothes. Every size between newborn and 6/7. This year, for the first time, we have hit a snag. Our little Maggie, who is 7 months, doesn’t have any really warm clothes for winter.

Odd? Not when you learn our two older girls spent their first Winters in Perth…. Arrggghhh I feel warm just thinking about it.

Poor little Maggie is spending her first Winter at our new home in country Victoria. It is starting to get cold. Not just a little bit cold. Bone chilling cold.

On the weekend I opened my lousy bags and spent $8. I know, I went all out. And bought this.

Apart from being extremely pink, it’s a bit boring.

With a little bit of pottering and the same applique technique I used to do the towels, I turned the above tracksuit into this.

This little project, for me, was the perfect way to fill in a bit of time. Also so much more fun than dealing with our washing! Don’t judge…it was Mothers Day Eve!

How To Applique & Giveaway!

My mum is a dressmaker. It seems like such a dull word for the beauty she can create with a sewing machine.

Over the years mum has taught me all I know about sewing. She has helped with the endless queries I’ve had, fixed the many mistakes I’ve made and passed on many tips and tricks.

Possibly one of the best things she has taught me, is the joy in making things for others.

Today I’m going to share a family favourite gift. The appliqued towel.

One Christmas, I appliqued towels for all 8 of my nieces and nephews on my husbands’ side of the family. Here is a picture of me (Christmas Eve) with one of the towels. Yes! There are a lot of letters in Miss Ashleigh’s name!

Most new babies in our family are given “the towel”.

I don’t usually do them for our relatives because I know that it is on Mum’s or Aunty Helen’s gift list, but lately I’ve started making them for people outside the family.

It dawned on me recently, after watching my girlfriend open her baby’s towel, that a child’s name is an extremely special privilege parents hold, and one many parents love.

I’ve got 3 children and spent hours deliberating over their names so I don’t know why I didn’t realise this sooner. It is quite obvious.

My girlfriend was so delighted that her little man had something with his name on it; she hung the towel in the lounge room over a chair so people could see it when they visited.

There have been a few new arrivals recently and I’ve ordered a heap of white towels to get busy making some pressies.

In the interest of “sharing the love” here’s a little tutorial on how I applique my towels. There is also a little giveaway at the end if you like the towels.

  1. Gather all of your supplies (Picture #1):
    1. A towel in the size of your choice. Although for babies a standard towel is plenty enough to keep them snug.
    2. “Good” scissors & paper scissors.
    3. Fabric of choice – I usually use quilting style cotton.
    4. Cardboard letters – I printed the alphabet on cardboard, using IMPACT font. You can also free draw.
    5. Vliesofix – Basically it is double sided glue for fabric – which can be purchased at spotlight and other crafting stores. It feels a little like baking paper as it has a removable paper attached.
    6. Pencil
    7. Iron
    8. Sewing machine/thread – you can hand sew if you don’t have a sewing machine available.
  2. Iron your fabric and place right side (print side) down on your ironing board (Picture #2)
  3. Take a piece of Vliesofix (you don’t need much) and iron the shiny side onto the wrong side of the fabric (Picture #2).
  4. Trace the letters onto the Vliesofix as per Picture #2. Remember to reverse the letters so that they are the right way when you put them on the towel.
  5. Cut out each of the letters. Keep the Vliesofix backing paper on the letters.
  6. Iron the towel and position the letters where you would like them (Picture #3). Keep the Vliesofix backing paper on the letters.
  7. Once you are happy with the positioning. Pull the backing paper off as per Picture #4. I always start with the middle letter so that my spacing doesn’t get mixed up.
  8. Double check the positioning and then gently iron over each of the letters. Again I start in the middle, as per Picture #5
  9. You can now pick your towel up and admire it. The letters won’t move from this point on.
  10. Set up your sewing machine to do zig zag stitch. As the letters have been essentially glued to the fabric, the zig zag stitch is just to neaten the edge and make sure that it doesn’t start to peel away with regular use. With the thread colour, my mum suggests always using the same colour as the towel. That way the back side of the towel looks lovely and neat.
  11. Slowly zig zag around each of the letters.
  12. Trim your threads and admire your handy work.

Here are some more ideas to get you started:

  • Towels don’t have to be for babies. Everyone uses them.
  • You can add ribbon or loops to hang them up.
  • Applique face washers, hand towels, t-shirts, bags, skirts – whatever your heart desires.
  • Play with the fabric, font, colour.
  • Google applique to gain inspiration for other objects.

Would you like to win one? Simply write a comment about your favourite baby name and then “like” the Sharing the Love Facebook page on the right of the screen.

Winners will be selected at random. I will email the winner to discuss what you would like on your towel.

Entries close on Monday 14th May @ 8pm EST with the winner announced via the facebook page on Tuesday. The giveaway is open to international residents.

Want to buy one? Just send me an email and I’d be happy to make one up for you. I only have white towels at the moment but if you had something else in mind we could customise. They are $35 per towel + postage.

Happy sewing everyone.

This has been shared with the lovely Desiree at The 36th Avenue

The 36th AVENUE

Buried in my head.

I’ve been missing this week. Buried in my head.

It has been a week of thought. Where every single thing you read, hear or discuss makes you ask another question.

Not a little question – What will I wear today?

But big questions. The hardest kind of questions. Questions about you. Who you are. What you stand for. How would you behave?

Too deep? There’s more.

My questions turn into questions – like a dog chasing its own tail. Round and round and round.

Lost yet? I’ve been feeling that way all week.

Today I’m curious. Am I crazy? Do others think as much as me? or Am I sleep deprived? and Have I been drinking too much coffee?

I’m putting you to the test…..here are some of the things that made me think this week. Please read them if you’ve got the time. I’d love to know what you thought.

I’m out now. Out of my head. Dug myself out with a dance, long drive, coffee and a good nights sleep.

I am ready for the weekend. I hope you enjoy yours x

Triple Choc Brownie Recipe….Easy & Yum

ANZAC day in Australia is a very special day.

We remember all of those who have given their lives for our country and honour those who are still in active duty. Many have written about the importance of ANZAC day and far more eloquently than I can.

This year was a little different for us. My husband and eldest daughter made it to the local ceremony, while the remainder of us slept in. We needed it.

When hubby & Hannah got home, they put their comfy clothes on.

This year we marked the holiday a little more than the occasion – rightly or wrongly. We had a day off.

We spent the morning together by the fire.

We took silly family photos of us un-showered, with hats on, happy and together.

We cleaned our house. It didn’t take too long, our house isn’t big.

Then the feeling of domesticity took over and I started cooking.

I cooked the sort of good, comfort food, required when the weather is cold and your family is having a day off.

Pumpkin soup and chocolate brownies.

Now I’d love to share the pumpkin soup recipe….but I don’t have one. I make it up as I go along. If you would like more detail please email me and I’ll send you my hashed up version.

The “Triple Choc Brownies” are a different story.

I laughed when I read the recipe. It’s been 6 years since I’ve made them. How do I know? Because the recipe is dated 6 Feb 2006. My eldest child was nearly 3 months old and I got the recipe from Ready Steady Cook. I made SO many brownies at this time that I haven’t made them since. Not because they’re bad, because they are good!

Once I started eating them I couldn’t stop. After I have babies, my waistline insists that I should not be eating brownies….lesson learnt the hard way after baby No1.

Anyway. I don’t know why I came back to them last Wednesday, but I am mighty glad I did. You will be too.

I’ve made a pretty pdf of the recipe and you can download it here. (New link includes 1/2 sugar ommitted from first list of ingredients – apologies)

Lessons I’ve learnt when making these tasty morsels:

  • Chocolate is interchangeable: You can use white, milk or dark. Use good quality though.
  • Nuts are interchangeable – or can be even left out.
  • Instead of using a muffin pan, use a mini muffin tin. The recipe then means you fill a 12 hole mini muffin pan instead of just 6 big ones. I remembered this after I made this batch.
  • If the brownies smell ready they are. Ignore the time. They burn on the bottom first which is hard to judge. So go with your nose.
  • They are a super easy, one bowl, one tin, 20 min till eating brownie. Great for last minute guests if you have the ingredients on hand.
  • The recipe includes instructions for fudge sauce. I’ve never made the fudge sauce but if you were dressing the brownies up for a dinner party I imagine it would be delightful.

Please enjoy x

Passing on a tip from Oprah

Years and years ago, I was watching Oprah, one of her specials about mothers and their amazing tips and tricks. The tip that I locked away in my memory bank has been so invaluable over the last few years that I thought I’d share it.

When your children start kinder, copious amounts of artwork, pastings, invitations, puppets etc etc start to make their way through the front door.

They are cute, generally oversized, bright and whimsical (i.e you can’t tell if its a blue dot or a super hero saving the world). None-the-less, these creations belong to your children. If your children are like mine, they will not let you throw anything out.

Here’s our notice board, only one week into Term 2 of school and kindergarten.

The tip I learnt from Oprah.

When your display area is full with artwork, take them all down! I know crazy.

Lay the child on the floor, all the artwork around the child and take a photo. Like so.

You then have a lovely picture of your child at the age the artworks were done, a record of the artwork and you can clear the display area for all the pieces yet to be created.

The big pieces of paper you can use for wrapping paper, special items you can keep and the rest…..well lets just say I am doing my bit for the planet. Recycle, recycle, recycle.

Just so I can walk down memory lane, the photo on the left is of my eldest daughter Hannah. This is her in the school holidays just gone.

The photo to the right is Hannah after her first term of 3 y/o Kinder 4 years ago.

It’s not only the children that change, the houses, the capabilities. I find doing this is like a cheats way of scrapbooking…..that just happens to keep your house clear of clutter.

Thanks Oprah.

KONY 2012

Firstly let me start by saying – I’m no social crusader. I’d like to do good on a grand scale but so many things stop this from happening.

I am bad with facts and figures. I am busy with life. I am generally not interested enough and the worst….. I get bored.

As ignorant as this may sound, it’s the truth.

When KONY 2012 went crazy. I watched the video. I cried for those children, the parents and all the suffering. And I thought, I can do this.

Do what?

All that the movie asked of me. It said “Let’s make KONY famous”.

I can do that. I can wear a T-shirt. I can wear a bracelet. I can put stickers and posters up. I can spare $50.

So I did it. I bought the pack.

Now – here in lies my dilemma. I’m so bad with facts and figures that I’m not sure if today is the day – or tomorrow. My pack says the night of April 20. In which timezone? Is it so people see red today? Is that so tomorrow everyone gets up and sees red? Not sure.

I’m rolling with the April 20 thing though. I’m wearing my t-shirt. Armed with my bracelet. Plastered my 3 y/o with a KONY sticker (she said that she doesn’t want to meet him though – you and me both babe). And I’m off to my eldest daughter’s nice conservative school for a Grade 1 presentation. I’m sure I’ll get looks, but hopefully I’m doing my job. Making Joseph Kony, one of the worlds worst war criminals, a little more famous.

And just in case I got the day wrong…..I’ll do it again tomorrow.