Sunday, January 31, 2010

Flea Market Finds

Today I'm joining in with Sophie's lovely Sunday Meme, Flea Market Finds. I am lucky enough to live across the road from a great little Op Shop, and love to pop my head in and scout for new treasures when I'm walking to the shops to get milk. It's a tiny, poky little shop, I can barely get the pram in the front door, but I always find a little treasure or two to take home.
This week I found this little bundle of goodies for the princely sum of $2.
Two gorgeous vintage books; I especially love Johnny and Sophie by the river, it's too divine. A little bag of assorted Anchor perle embroidery threads and the three rolls at the bottom of the picture are Crochet threads, perfect for when I master my Granny!
Thanks Sophie for hosting this delightful Meme. For more finds, pop over to Sophie's place.

Haiti Relief

The crafty community has been doing lots to raise funds for the people of Haiti who's country has been devastated by terrible earthquakes. I just wanted to draw your attention to two more super bloggy fundraisers for Haiti that you should check out.

The ever lovely and super talented Kate is auctioning off the most darling little bunny you have ever seen here with all proceeds to go to Haiti relief.

Clever Cath is selling a super cute doggy here with proceeds to go to Haiti relief.

Visit them! Support the cause!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Place And Yours - Shoes!

Shoes! Shoes, shoes, shoes. I *heart* shoes! I told Vic I loved them, and she thought we should share the love and picked me to be this week's -da da da daaaaaa- Theme Queen!

So here are my current favourite pair of shoes:

Aren't they sweet? I think they are a little bit fifties and very glam. I love them!
I bought them in December to wear to a wedding. I had already bought a dress, a little black number with a cream coloured satin sash just under the bust which tied in a lovely bow at the back, and thought I would wear a nice pair of black strappy heels I had already. The day before the wedding I was walking past a shoe store when I spied these shoes on the Clearance Table at the front of the store. The last pair, in my size, half price. Who am I to argue with fate? I bought them. I love them. They looked FAB with the dress. These shoes and I are a perfect match.

If you are getting about in heels, you should definitely get yourself some "Party Feet", they help your feet to feel better even if you are dancing the night away!

Thanks Vic for letting me be this weeks Theme Queen. To check out more Shoes at My Place And Yours, visit Punky & Me.

Friday, January 29, 2010

What fun!

I went to my first Northern Craft Bonanza last night. I thought I would have to procure some fake ID with a more Northerly address just to get in (me not being from the North and all) but Cathy assures me that the night is open to anyone and made me feel very welcome!

There were lots of lovely peeps, plenty of coffee and chais going around, loads of chat, catching up and exchange of ideas, and of course a little bit of crafting too!

There was some lovely knitting...

Beccasaurus was covering some buttons... (do you think she needs to cover that cleavage as well? Sorry Bec, I'll do better with the camera angle next time!)

The very lovely Lara from Thornberry brought these gorgeous snoods that she had whipped up... (if that doesn't inspire a girl to master the art I don't know what will!)

Liesl was crocheting with the most delicious looking chocolate yarn I've ever seen...

And Curlypops was making tags for her gorgeous gadget pouches (and a sale or two as well!)...

I took along my pitiful crochet attempts and was lucky enough to get some instruction and handy tips from Liesl and Lara. Liesl most helpfully agreed with me when I stated that I had just made the world's worst crochet chain, and patiently waited for me to unravel and start again. More than once. Lara had some fab tips about 'blocking' which I'm hoping will make my 'Granny' more 'Square'. 
The Bonanza is on fortnightly, hope to see you there.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Creative Space

ooray, Thursday's Creative Space is back for 2010, thank you Kirsty for hosting this fab meme!

Today I'm getting creative with numbers. Do you think The Bloke Who Lives At My Place will notice the new column in this year's family budget?
To check out more Creative Spaces pop over to Kirsty's.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Round 1

Hurrah! Here is my first completed (if somewhat wonky) round of a Granny Square! Thanks Pip for the very excellent video tutorials, you have completely demystified the art of crochet for me.

(Note: before proceeding, please stand up from your chair and take 3 paces backwards; this picture is best viewed from afar so as to admire the greatness of my overall achievement, and not look too closely at the unevenness of the stitches, the general wonky-ness and the strange 'roundness' of the 'square'! Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.)

My next attempt was somewhat more square looking, but I'm not sure what has happened in the top left corner where I've tried to join up with the start.


After finding crochet to be mostly frustrating and not at all fun or productive as I was hoping, I was nearly ready to throw in the towel, er, hook. Then I discovered that the wonderful Pip is now head tutor at 'Granny Square School' so I signed up, and I'm away!

Now that I'm holding my yarn correctly (Lesson 2) I'm finding that my chains are much easier to make (Lesson 3).  I'm practising chaining until I'm confident about my tension and technique, then will move onto Lesson 4.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Choose Your Own Adventure Cooking

I discovered late this evening that there were 6 very overripe peaches and nectarines in my fruit bowl that I did not want to waste, so I decided that dessert was in order. I did think of searching online for an appropriate recipe, but then thought it's been a while since I've done some Choose Your Own Adventure Cooking! I love Choose Your Own Adventure Cooking: I start out with an ingredient (overripe stonefruit in this case) and a vague idea (dessert) and just start chopping and throwing things into pots. Sometimes it works, sometimes it's a great lesson in what not to do. Tonight, it seems, it worked! The result: Fruit Tartlets.

Method (snicker, if you can call it that)

Roughly chop stone fruit and throw into pot.
Add sparkling white wine (because that's what is open in the fridge) and a small quantity of raw sugar.
Forage in kitchen for other suitable ingredients.
Add small handful of blueberries and sultanas, a pinch of cinnamon and a drop of vanilla extract.

Muse over what on earth could be done next with quantity of stewed fruit.
Following suggestion by The Bloke Who Lives At My Place, search for pastry.
Discover shortcrust pastry in freezer. Excellent. Line tartlet tine with pastry.
Fill pastry rounds with stewed fruit.
Rummage in pantry for suitable toppings as not enough shortcrust pastry to cut rounds for lids.
Top with a mixture of hazlenut meal and brown sugar. Inspired!

Bake at 200degrees C for about 10 minutes.
Serve warm with ice cream. Mmm delicious.

All's well that ends well, thanks for sharing my cooking adventures! Do you like to cook 'on the fly'? Make it up as you go along? What daring adventures have you had in the kitchen lately?

Beautiful Butterfly

Look what the Junior Crafter found

And no matter how many times she let it go in the garden, it just kept coming back to her! I think it's a bit magical to have a butterfly choose you over a garden full of flowers!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Place and Yours

I'm joining in with a lovely meme this week called My Place And Yours, formerly hosted by the very crafty Pip, now rehoused at Vic's little corner of blogland :) The theme this week is 'What I'm Reading'.

Here's what I'm trying to read:

I love Jodi Picoult, I've read most of her books. Harvesting the Heart explores the nature of ambivalent motherhood, and is the emotional tale of a new mother, Paige, trying to come to terms with motherhood when she didn't know her own mother. Some of Picoult's descriptions of the overwhelming and confused feelings of a new mother trying to take care of a newborn and feeling completely out of her depth rang so true for me that I wondered if the author had read my diary. I'm loving it. I'd even like to finish it.

Yes, this sophisticated and oh so grown up novel is what I'm trying to read...

This is what I actually end up reading most days at my place:

Not so sophisticated, but funny, sometimes rhyming and definitely noisier! (10 Little Rubber Ducks has a little ducky squeaker inside the back cover, too cute).

10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle is a beautiful tale about a shipment of 10 rubber ducks that gets lost overboard during shipping. The Rubber Ducks each go in different directions, and the last little rubber duck gets adopted by a family of real ducks!

There's a Sea in my Bedroom by Margaret Wild, Illustrated by Jane Tanner tells the story David, a little boy who is frightened of the sea. When David takes a conch shell home, a sea appears in his bedroom and helps David overcome his fears.

Slinky Malinki by Lynley Dodd is a very well worn favourite in our house.
Slinky Malinki was blacker than black,
a stalking and lurking adventurous cat.
He had bright yellow eyes,a warbling wail,
and a kink at the end of his very long tail."
(Yes I can recite the entire book from memory. Don't look so impressed, I have after all been reading it almost daily for the past eight years). Lynley Dodd of course wrote the Hairy Maclary series - if you have young children and you don't know these books, you should!

Thanks Vic for hosting this fun meme!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Learning something new

A couple of weeks ago on my weekend away, my Mum very patiently tried to teach me the basics of Crochet. It seemed simple enough, and the instructions were clear. I'm actually finding it's a bit tricky - sshh, don't tell anyone. I'll keep practising.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cooking up a storm

Today I've been cooking up a storm:

Beer bread, the easiest bread recipe I've ever made, less than 5 minutes and it was in the oven!

Sweet Potato & Chick Pea Dip, this is a really healthy snack for the kids to have with crackers and carrot sticks, and it's so yummy.

I also made these scrum-diddly-umptious Strawberry Muffins and I just couldn't wait to share this super easy recipe with you, link to recipe here.

Thanks also for all your kind messages re my last post, Poor Point 3 is now completely recovered and sleeping soundly once more :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Somebody cheer me up!

Oh it's been a long week here at Chateau Craft Gypsy. I have been nursing a sick baby, and trying (in vain) to entertain two bored school holidayers who can't have a friend over (might wake sleeping sick baby) can't go out anywhere (sick baby needs to stay home and rest) and can't do anything exciting like sewing or baking (mummy needs to look after the sick baby).

I haven't been crafting, or blogging, or sleeping or anything else I might vaguely enjoy, and last night couldn't go to the Northern Craft Bonanza because said sick baby just needed some mummy-TLC, so is it okay if I just come in here feeling a little sad and sorry for myself?

(I know it's not really that bad, it's just been a loooooong week and I'm soooooo tired.Forgive my little whinge)

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Had a lovely day on Friday not doing Craft with Liesl. We had planned to do some crafting. I had carefully (and rather ambitiously, as it turns out) packed my Janome and a fairly large container of WIPs into my car, along with a fruit platter and my 3 children who were looking forward to a playdate with Argy & Bargy...wait....aaaaah, now I see the problem. We were outnumbered.

Between us we have 5 delightful young 'uns, who all had a fabulous day eating and drinking and playing ball, chasey, piano, cars, trains, farms and hide and seek. However, I do believe in all our planning we failed to notice one vital factor: It turns out that 5 small children on a playdate and a Crafternoon cannot coexist without disrupting the Space-Time Continuum. Who knew?

However, we managed to admire each other's WIPs talked about my woeful attempts to learn to crochet, and we chatted about all the crafting we would like to be doing,

 partake of some delicious Hoppo Bumpo biscuits and a latte,

and we were even invited back despite this disaster created by Poor Point 3 at lunch!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I may have the answer...

I was reading this post over at the lovely (but not at all sucky) Hoppo Bumpo and realised I may have some valuable information to share with you fellow crafters. If you are after something that really sucks, the answer is ducted vacuuming. It is completely awesome, and sucks better and harder than any other vac I've ever owned. Thread, hair, mushy chewed up vegemite toast, bowling balls, lego pieces, small get the picture? And before you think it's a fanciful and extravagant idea but you couldn't possibly - mine cost less than $1000 and was easily installed in my 90 year old house in half a day, by The Bloke Who Lives At My Place (who usually masquerades as a public servant during daylight hours).

Seriously, best thing I ever did. Now if I could just tear myself away from my WIPs long enough to actually do some housework...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Be Still, My Beating Heart

Here it is, the amazing gift Mum gave me whilst I was staying with her on the weekend:

It's Kimono Silk. Real Kimono Silk from Japan.

 An ENTIRE ROLL, it's 38cm wide by about 18-20 metres long! Isn't it completely gorgeous?

Okay, be still my beating heart. So how did I come to be in posession of such awesome loveliness? Three years ago my uncle married a beautiful Japanese girl, and my mother travelled to Japan to be at the wedding. The bride's parents presented this roll of Kimono silk to Mum at the wedding as a gift from their family. She has had it ever since but had no idea what to do with it, so she has given it to me in the hope that I will make something beautiful with it. Of course I'm terrified to touch it, let alone take to it with scissors, but I do have a dream of it becoming a quilt someday, maybe with matching cushions and a tiny wall hanging?

If you know anything about Kimono Silk I want to hear from you! If you have any idea what I should do with this, or how it should be handled, I'm all ears! I should also say that I am fairly sure it's silk, but it doesn't actually say anywhere on the fabric or packaging.  I don't know anything more about it except for this Japanese mark which is stamped on the end of the roll and is also on a tiny piece of tape which held the tissue paper around the fabric. It may be a manufacturers mark, if anyone out there can read it and translate I'd love to know what it says.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Thanks Mum

My sleepover at Rancho Relaxo was wonderful.

We went out for lunch here. Delicious.

Then back to Mum's for 2 hours of relaxing in the spa with a refreshing drink and a good book:

Followed by a spot of relaxing in front of the fire, listening to some beautiful music, (and I was given a very very special gift by my mum which I will share with you tomorrow)

Then a gourmet meal of Rack of Lamb, Dutch Cream Potatoes pan fried with garlic and rosemary, and steamed beans and carrots.

Some more music and relaxing before heading off to my cosy little bed:

(with a nightcap)

And above my bed were the books of my childhood (and my mum's childhood), aren't they fab?

All topped off by a sleep in 'til 9am. Heavenly. Thanks Mum, it was exactly what I needed xx

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Going home to Mother

I'm off to my Mum's for a lovely girly (child free!) sleepover! The Bloke Who Lives At My Place will be spending some quality time with his little 'uns: The Junior Crafter, Captain Underpants and Poor Point 3, while I will be spending some quality time catching up on some much needed sleep.

Mum and I are going out for lunch, then doing a little spot of shopping, then home to unpack a few boxes (Mum has just moved back into her house after a housefire earlier this year), and spend a little girly time together. I'm hoping Mum will teach me to crochet so I can have a go at one of these. And then I'm having a very early night and hopefully a lovely sleep in...I think the last time I had a decent sleep was around 2001!

Friday, January 1, 2010

A completed project, and an interesting discovery

It's only the first day of the year and I already have a completed project under my belt! I'm doing a little happy dance on the inside, as I am a chronic starter of craft projects and a very poor finisher of same.

Whilst some of my bloggy friends were able to finish the year with a lovely list of completed projects, I think I was lucky that 2009 didn't actually end up on my UFO/WIP pile! So to start the new year by finishing something is a good omen I think - it's important to start as you mean to go on!

This is an embroidered travel journal cover I made for The Junior Crafter's wonderful Grade 2 teacher who is taking this year off to travel around the world! She has been a brilliant teacher and we felt so lucky that The Junior Crafter was in her class, and she will be greatly missed this year.

As a project, although I was very happy with the end result, it was not all smooth sailing.

When I measured and cut the outer and lining for the journal cover I did not allow enough extra width to cover the seam allowance and the topstitching required to make the pockets for the journal to slip into. So when I stitched the outer and the lining together and turned them right sides out, I had no hope of being able to top stitch the pockets down and still fit the journal in.

So I unpicked. Which took a really long time. And in the end, was not very helpful.

You see, the outer of the journal is a gorgeous piece of vintage linen I found at my local op shop some time ago. As luck would have it, my Gutermann 02776 thread is an exact colour match to the linen, and I very carefully sewed the linen and the lining together using stitch length 1 so as to hold the delicate fabric very securely. Which it did. So the unpicking was a difficult and frustrating affair.

To make matters worse, it didn't even help in the end. I restitched the (now slightly damaged from the seam ripper) vintage linen to the lining using the SCANTEST 1/8 seam allowance, carefully turned it, ironed it to within an inch of its life, still didn't fit :(

After experimenting with elastic, ribbon, matching binding (here is a fab tutorial for using a bias tape maker) I quickly realised that nothing would work, short of starting over, and I had already put so much work into the piecing and the embroidery!

Just then, The Junior Crafter stepped in and saved the day! Why don't you just sew it onto the journal Mum? said she. Because my sewing machine won't sew through a hard book cover darling, I replied. However, with no other options (and plenty of spare needles on hand) I decided to give it a whirl. Which leads me to the interesting discovery: my Janome can sew through four layers of fabric and a hard journal cover!

Forgive the blurry photo, but that is my trusty Janome whizzing through all the layers with ease. And not a broken needle in sight. The moral of the story is always listen to your children, they might be saying something very useful. And there is no limit to what a good sewing machine can handle!

Happy New Year friends xx

Happy New Year...and hello Old Friend!

What a way to start the New Year - in the company of my faithful friend QuickUnpick.

So here I am, New Year's morning, madly trying to finish a very overdue gift, and I got the seam allowance wrong! Aargh. And of course I sewed the entire thing with a stitch length of 1 so as to very securely hold the vintage linen in place. My own fault really for mixing up my ambitions with my ability, and for arrogantly thinking such things as: "surely it won't be that complicated" and "patterns are for other people" and "who needs a tutorial?"

I sincerely hope your New Year is off to a better start than mine!