Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wrapped up 5: crocheted gift bow from scrap wool


Wrapped up 4: give a beautiful bag from Verb no need to wrap!


Adele from Verb designs bags made in India under fair trade conditions. Inside these fantastic bags is the story of the worker who made the bag sewn into the lining. How great is that? She launches her company early in 2012.

Wrapped up 3: a slightly more manly wrap


Sometimes the craft world is dominated by feminine patterns and colours. Here's my attempt at wrapping that is a little less "pink and floral". It is for my brother.... Who will think I'm a nut for not just buying wrapping paper. Hope he likes it.

Present 2: voucher in an old paper sleeve with details from a Xmas card


Take stuff from around the house and wrap presents


Some festive themed junk mail from a local insurance company, an old crochet project, and a christmas card-all fair game today!

Wrapped up part 1


This year I'm trying to wrap my Xmas presents using recycled stuff from around my house. Hope the family doesn't mind!

Present 1 is the apron I made last week from up cycled fabrics. Wrapped up with recycled tissue paper - always hard to find a piece that isn't torn - and tied up with a crocheted "ribbon" using scrap wool.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Crochet newbie takes on mohair


Went to a fantastic local yarn shop and came home with the most beautiful mohair blend yarn. It is far too multicolored for me but I'm hoping to make a scarf for my mum. Have started and realized that working with this fiber is going to take a lot more concentration than my regular cheap acrylics. It is so soft!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sewing newbie dramas


I made a skirt but still can't get the hang of sizing when making my own patterns. This one is about two full sizes too big for me.

Any advice?

Would love to make something I don't have to give away!

I made a little town


Have you ever seen one of those super cute craft projects that makes you think "hell yes, I need to make some of that cute stuff right now"?

Of course you have.

That's what happened to me when I saw these most amazing gingerbread houses by Megan over at Not Martha:

The woman is amazing. She single-handedly inspired my recent gingerbread frenzy. I won't say that there wasn't tears when I realized that we were out of eggs (this is after leaving all the ingredients locked in my office at work) and I can't say that they looked anything like Megan's. But they were delicious and I did get to serve them to a small army of appreciative gingerbread lovers.

There is something seriously strange going on with American mug sizes because even though I used Megan's pattern to cut my cookie constructables, and they didn't expand much during cooking, the houses were waaaaay to big for little old Australian mugs. No one minded.

Try it out yourself- if you dare.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How to help without getting in the way


Like a few people I know, I've got a feeling lately that I could be doing this whole "charmed life in the developed world" thing a lot better. Sure, I donate to charity and not for profits, I pick up my litter, and I try to smile at strangers, but surely there is more I could do (that's sarcasm, people!).

I am incredibly lucky. I estimate that I'm probably among the top 5% of the world's most fortunate people. I live in a country that provides me with a level of free (or close to free) medical care, clean water whenever I want it, and oh the food! I have access to food from around the world whenever I want it. From my home, I can easily walk to at least 2 grocery stores and a number of cafes and restaurants. These places never run out off food and offer meals at a price I can afford. I enjoy a general level of safety and political security. I have the right to free speech and to protest, to vote, and to work and live in a manner of my choosing (given some sensible parameters). I have an excellent post graduate education that cost me a fraction of the cost of a new car and my government gave me an interest free loan which is paid through my tax only when I am employed above a certain salary level. I have a job that I love dearly; it allows me to make small but noticeable differences in people's lives every day. It pays me enough to feel comfortable in my community without getting too cocky. Most importantly, I am surrounded by people who love and support me and we have regular opportunities to be in each other's company.

You see, I'm pretty lucky. You might be pretty lucky too- either in similar or other ways. And when I think about how lucky I am, I can't help thinking about the people who are living very different lives to me. I guess I'm feeling completely inadequate and incompetent when it comes to assisting those who need it most in the ways that will help the most.

But this is not about guilt. While guilt has been a tool of choice for some organizations, I'm not interested in guilt trips. Guilt will motivate someone to donate a few dollars for some relief from that nagging feeling. Guilt is good for creating a short term fix. Guilt will not engage the heart end the mind. Guilt will not help empower people to do what they can with what they have. In fact, guilt has the potential to make us lose hope; to think that the problem is too big, or too distant.

I'm hoping to make lasting changes in my everyday life that will make a difference to the way that my actions impact on and contribute to the lives of others. This isn't about donations, which might be forgotten or inconsistently made. This isn't about one two week trip to Africa to build a school, and I'll explain why later. This isn't about creating a new organization; there are plenty of good organizations out there, the world probably doesn't need a new one. This is about supporting and joining groups that move beyond charity, who offer long term solutions that are context sensitive.

Let the journey begin!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Red Shield Appeal - quick crochet project

I just made this little cutie. I love a project I can complete in one night.


It is part of the Salvation Army's latest fundraising drive. If you'd like the pattern, make sure you go to the Salvo's webpage and make a donation!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pillow case tops

I've been mucking around with pillowcases from thrift/op shops lately. My fascination with pillowcases partly comes from the fact that they are normally one of the cheapest items in the shops and so make for cheap fabric while I'm working out my sewing skills. Also, I've been using them because I'm really keen to reduce my own waste by buying and using recycled goods.  Sewing and crafts can actually be very wasteful hobbies when you think about it -so I'm trying to do my bit. Here's two of my creations. I finished them early Saturday and wore each of them for a day this weekend.

What do you think? Can I get away with these in public?

I have to credit these sources for providing guidence/ideas/inspiration:

little green dresses by Tina Sparkles


Monday, August 22, 2011

My other creations :)

Making a lot of earrings at the I think I'll have a go at rings!

These photos aren't great but you get the idea.

Byron Bay!

Here's some quick pics of a weekend spent in Byron and Northern New South Wales.

Down at the beach.



On the way to Alstonville...


The Rous bonfire - the annual fundraising event for the Rous school. We were about a kilometer from it when we started to see the light. I thought they'd accidently set the whole school on fire. It was huge! The photos don't to it justice.

What I've been up to...

Craft has occupied a lot fo my spare time at the moment. I haven't had a lot of it...but I've spent the time I do have making things with my own hands.

I've almost finished the Crepe dress from Colette patterns!



I've also been making earrings - here's my latest effort - yellow roses!



I've been cooking mexican and my own version of a Vietnames salad (with pumpkin - yum!).




I've learnt to crochet....I'm working on two blankets at the moment. Here's a sneak preview of one.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Computer very ill

My personal computer has started to die a slow painful death. I can't seem to get it started anymore. That's a bit of a shame as I had some cool pics ready for a few posts. I'll keep trying and see if I can continue my soap story/ sewing the crepe dress/ and a few other things I had planned.

Keep your fingers crossed!

Friday, July 15, 2011

A sleepy afternoon.

Amazing, I can create 'stuff' about 'sleepy' little Rochester, MN from the other side of the planet. I lived in Rochester last year and the images in this stop motion are from the webcam at UMR.  I logged into the webcam today and whenever I had a break in my work I grabbed a few screenshots. Then, using, I put it all together into this simple stop motion.  Not earth shattering, I know, but a way to capture an afternoon and save it.  I really got into watching the 'ant people' seeing how long people lingered on a park bench, who rushed through, and how long parents let their children enjoy the water fountain. For those who don't know, the event you see here is Rochester's "Thursdays on 1st and 3rd".

I wonder what other people would do if they had one afternoon to fill any way they liked...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

We did it!

I forgot to mention that we finished the half marathon. It was my fastest one yet - 2 hours 10 minutes and 10 seconds. My man & personal trainer extraordinaire came in 1 second faster.  A good result for not training!  I have promised myself I won't go into another race without trying to prepare. I was probably lucky not to get an injury. Phew!

Crepe attacks!

I'm struggling with my gran's old sewing machine - it keeps jamming - but I managed to make some progress on my dress this weekend. The pattern is by Colette Patterns (Crepe).

Yes, I couldn't stand to cut up the beautiful pattern so I've made a copy of my size.

There are a few bloggers who have attempted this pattern who recommend making a lining. That's a bit beyond me so I've just used the facing pieces from this pattern.  There are little facing pieces around the selves and around the neck and back.

Oh, yes, those are my fave brown boots in this pic.  The bodice is coming together nicely.

Friday, July 1, 2011

My month in pictures

Phew! Work really kicked me around this month so I didn't have a lot of time for blogging. Here are some of the highlights though. In no particular order!

Sweet enough June was really difficult. Here's  the final post I put on the small Facebook group that my friends and I used to share our ideas, admit our defeats, and announce our successes. I recommended a group like that if you're ever going to try this!

I also made some resin based earrings (well, I constructed them...some of the work was done for me). I'm selling these to friends in Australia at the moment, just for a few dollars. I'm not brave enough yet to sell things to other people.  I'm a bit worried about all the logistics of it.  Plus, there are heaps of people selling 'stuff' on the Internet. We probably don't need another person in the mix!  Was a fun thing to do and has helped me acquire some new jewelery without much expense.

I also had two holidays to Maleny (see some tourist info here) One trip was with friends and one with family for my mother's 60th birthday. It was very relaxing. Here's a pic of the Australian wine and beer we drank.

I did some more baking. I also tried to make some cookies/scones without using sugar. They turned out OK but the recipe needs some work. You can see a short video below.

One of my most exciting outings was to the new "Stitchery Collective" in Spring Hill Brisbane. These ladies are QUT graduates and are developing a collective around not for profit fashion. Look at their amazing fabric samples!

"The Stitchery" hold classes and I went to the 'upcycling' workshop. I made this dress below. The idea is to make new fashion from existing pieces. Can you guess what type of item my dress used to be?
Yes, it used to be a men's business shirt!  I'm hoping to expand my skills in this area - if I can just get my sewing machine to work properly!  I've also just bought this book:

I've started to read through the chapters and, as a beginner sewer, I'm really happy I purchased it. The book starts with a brilliant introduction that gives statistics and figures about how much we waste by discarding clothes too quickly and the cost involved in making clothes.  I really liked this and instantly wanted to show it to everyone I know.  The chapters are also set up so that easier patterns and ideas are towards the front and the required skills/ experience builds as you get to the back.  The best part is that there are op/thrift shopping ideas at the start of each project; Tina tells you what kinds of items you're looking for, how large, quality of the fabric etc.  That's great for someone starting out in 'upcycling' clothing!  I'll let you know how I go with the projects.

You can buy it here.

We also went for a few walks. Here's two of my fave pics. No editing etc.

So now it is onwards and upwards as we head into July. This weekend I'll attempt to run my third half marathon. I'm really nervous right now because I haven't trained much at all. It is winter here and I've found myself getting home from work and sitting in front of the TV or in the kitchen a lot. I don't seem to be in a routine with my exercise and so I know this will be a difficult race for me.  I'll let you know how it goes!...I'm scared!
The race details are here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Giveaway comp on "Oh Happy Day": Trip to Paris.

Can you believe that the lovely Jordan from Oh Happy Day is giving away a trip to Paris?

Enter here: and don't forget to check out her DIY projects. Here's one of my faves: a make your own s'mores kit!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Brrr, it's getting cold here!

It is finally getting colder in Brisbane.  Typically, we have a few months of cool weather and then we're back in shorts and skirts for the rest of the year.  We don't get snow and most people don't have heating in their homes.  This week we had a really cold day, see a report in one of our newspapers here. Ok, so the temps didn't even go below freezing, but it is still cold for us. After a year of Minnesota weather, this is the coldest I've been in a while.

So I thought this was a great opportunity to cook a slow soup. I took two recipes this one from Jamie Oliver and this one from Donna Hay (who used to be the Marie Claire Australia food editor).  The result was this soup.

I couldn't help putting my new recipe into a video. You can see the result of my efforts here:

I was feeling pretty chuffed about that until I saw this video by tiger in a jar on Vimeo: it is stunning!  I have a lot to learn before I can create something like that...not to mention, I need a video camera.  Oh well. I'm happy to muck around for now and will use the beautiful vids from "tiger" as inspiration.

Friday, June 10, 2011

ARGH! The trouble with possums

Yes, possums are really cute. We get some lovely curious ones visiting us at home. I have to say, the Australian ones are really nice looking compared to possums that you find in some other parts of the world - I'm biased though.

Today, I'm not feeling so charitable. After loosing all my herbs to the hungry possums, I wasn't doing much gardening. Then my lovely grandpa gave me a 5 year old chili plant. He's been growing them, cultivating them, and just generally putting a lot of love into it. I could tell he was really proud of that plant.

This morning we woke up to find that the beautiful big chili bush has now been reduced to a few twigs.  The possums are at it again!!

Do you have trouble with wildlife in your garden?  Any suggestions for how I can live with these cuties but not have every plant ruined?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

American BBQ in Australia

We went out for a special b'day tonight. The Smoke Room is the first and only American style BBQ to smoke all their own meats on the property.  I was disappointed to see no bacon and brown sugar baked beans but the rest of the menu was fantastic!  I had to give myself the day off from "Sweet Enough June" but it was worth it.

I ate way too many wings... oops.