Thursday, 29 January 2015

Bloggy Break

I will be taking a small blog break for the month of February. I will be working on home things while I am away. The month of February is going to be less time on the computer and tending to life without thinking about blogging. I won't be commenting around but rest assured I'm fine and I'll be out walking Mister Simba and crafting away as usual. A few of you will no doubt see me at the Simple Living Toowoomba workshops so I will catch up then with some of you. The rest of y'all I will catch up in comments around March.

Be kind. 
And I hope every one is having a good day or evening where ever you are.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Pretty dolly

While the weather has been over cast with rain,  I have been indoors creating at my desk. I've been using up some of my scrap stash to make these dolly peg sachets. They are very simple to make and look so cute when finished. They also are practical as they hang on coat hangers in the cupboard and the scent keeps moths away.

To Make: You will need some Craft pegs and ear bud cleaners (You can use pipe cleaners if you like) Paint the faces as you please, hair and flesh is painted and details like eyes, nose, mouth are drawn in with pencil. Add a little blush to cheeks with a coloured pencil.  Curve the ear bud cleaner around the peg to form arms (I used hot glue gun to keep my cleaner in place. Ink up the cotton bud part with some flesh coloured ink. Then wrap some fabric washi tape around where the arm sticks out. Add some lace. This is the 'sleeve' of your dolly peg gown. Make a bag, sew up the sides leaving a little gap at the top. Place your pegs inside and fill with dried potpourri of your choice: lavender is good for moths.  Where the gap is it should be enough to pull up over the arms of the dolly peg. Use tight gathering stitches at the top around the dolly neck to close the bag. You might have to make a few slip stitches around the arm gap to enclose it if it gaps open. 

Clothe your dolly in any way that makes you smile. Skirts are simple. The bag becomes the bodice or top and you use gathering stitches at the doll waist on the skirt to draw it in. Add a hanger at the top by sewing in ribbon at the back of the neck like and add a bit of trim around the neck to hide the sewn in ribbon (this looks like a collar or neck decoration) and you are done.

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever you are.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Potpourri: Introduction

Naturally fragrant botanical materials have been used since before Egyptian times to perfume households. This use, with variations, continues to the present day. The name we have given to this fragrant craft is potpourri.
There are two methods of making potpourri, the moist and dry methods. Of these, the dry method is the only one suitable for fragrant craft work. 

To make a potpourri, three things are needed – flowers, fragrance and fixative. To be appealing and useful, a potpourri must look good and retain a pleasant fragrance almost indefinitely.  The important thing to remember though is that both visual and fragrant appeal are personal, what you like others may not.
Flowers give colour and form, not necessarily fragrance. They must be fully dry. Quick drying directly in the sun accentuates colour but minimises fragrance. A drying rack retains fragrance but minimises colour. Select a range of flowers and proportion them in the mix so the variation of colour and form is eye catching.

For economy in potpourri making, it is wise to select at least one cheap bulky material as the base then add smaller amounts of other more expensive ingredients. A very frugal way is to grow your own and harvest the plants as you need them.

Fragrance is added to potpourri either by natural botanical materials or by concentrated fragrant oil. Most commonly a blend is used.  Fragrant and essential oils are more versatile in creating attractive potpourri fragrances than just botanical materials. To ensure the fragrances of a potpourri lasts a fixative is essential. The two most commonly used are orris root, the dried fragrant root of Iris Florentia and gum benzoin, a natural tree gum.  A cornstarch substitute can be used but powders cloud the colours of a potpourri and make it dusty. 

All ingredients of potpourri may be finally mixed by placing in a large bag and or air tight container for about six weeks and shaking it every now and then. This allows proper blending of  all fragrant components. It is said the fragrance of a well made potpourri  lasts up to 50 years.

Traditional uses of using potpourri:

Open bowls: Fill colourful open china bowls and leave in a central location to fragrance room.

Pomanders: Mix with vegetable gum such as karaya or Arabic and form into balls. Allow to harden and use as beads amongst clothing. Oranges are also used and cloves are pushed into oranges then the oranges are rolled in a mixed spice then left to dry.

Sachets: Make small bags from open lace or cotton material and fill with potpourri. Decorate with ribbon and place in drawers.

Pillows: A larger variation of the sachet. 

Rose bowl

8 cups rose petals
4cups rose or lemon verbena leaves
 6 cups lavender flowers
½ cup orris root glandules
½ cup gum benzion
2/3 cup coarse ground, mix spice
2 teaspoons rose fragrance oil

Method: Place rose petals, leaves and lavender in a plastic bag. Place fixatives and spice in a mixing bowl, add fragrance and mix. Add to plastic bag and shake. Place in air-tight container keep in a warm place and shake occasionally for six weeks. 

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Australia day

All I can say about the weather right now is can we have winter now. I suppose it was a good day for Australia Day celebrations and to end the summer holidays for school kids.  I thought some might like to know about the meaning of my name Shiralee, a very Australian name. They made two movies of Niland's book The Shiralee, which are very good to watch.

THERE was a man who had a cross and his name was Macauley. He put Australia at his feet, he said, in the only way he knew how. His boots spun the dust from its roads and his body waded its streams. The black lines on the map, and the red, he knew them well. He built his fires in a thousand places and slept on the banks of rivers. The grass grew over his tracks, but he knew where they were when he came again.
He had two swags, one of them with legs and a cabbage-tree hat, and that one was the main difference between him and others who take to the road, following the sun for their bread and butter. Some have dogs. Some have horses. Some have women. And they all have mates and companions, or for this reason and that, all of some use. But with Macauley it was this way: he had a child and the only reason he had it was because he was stuck with it.

Regarding The Shiralee, D'Arcy Niland said: "It is a biblical truth that all men have burdens. This is the simple story of a man with a burden, a swagman with his swag, or shiralee, which in this case happens to be a child. I have often thought that if all burdens were examined, they would be found to be like a swagman's shiralee - not only a responsibility and a heavy load, but a shelter, a castle and sometimes a necessity."

Recipe: Damper Bread

4 cups self-raising flour
1 tsp salt
20 g butter, softened
1 cup milk
½ cup water

Preheat oven to 220 degrees.

Stir together flour, salt. With your hands rub in butter until mixture is like fine bread crumbs. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in milk and water. Stir until the dough comes together. Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface and form into a round loaf about 20cm across. Place the loaf onto the prepared tray and bake for 25 minutes in preheated oven, then lower the temperature to 180 degrees and continue to bake for another 5 to 10 minutes. The damper should be golden brown and the bottom should sound hollow when tapped.

Tommy Steel singing Shiralee.

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever they are.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

To Ponder

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever they are

Slow days

The day started out very over cast and remained like it for the rest of the day. Thankfully we are still having some really nice cool weather and the drop of rain we did have seemed to perk all the greens up a little. The over cast weather meant it was not a good day for taking photographs while waiting for snails to come out of their shells.

The potted herbs are enjoying the bit of rain we did have. They don't look so wilted.

It's good weather for pottering around inside and doing a bit of cleaning and sorting as I usually do. I now have a few boxes packed up for storage. I think there will be some more yet. But not as many as I used to have. If it is, I'll be going through things again for a de-clutter.

And a little return to my favorite love, painting. Little dolly faces to make up as sachets for the lavender I dried a while back. I've been wanting to get back to painting. Soon. My sketch books are getting full of ideas.

I hope every one is having a good day or evening where ever they are.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Scrap life

Today was very over cast and raining which cooled things down once again. It really is more like autumn weather rather than summer. I'm enjoying this weather a lot more than the weather we have been having. It should be obvious I don't like the heat. I like summer just not the heat we have been experiencing.  With the rain about I organised a few sewing projects I want to finish up. I have a basket full that needs to be done, hopefully some time this century. The teapot supper cloth is progressing along slowly. 

I also have a cardboard box where I toss scraps of fabric that I know I can do something with even the smallest piece I use a technique called crumb piecing to make use of. Most of these end up in a crazy quilt block but I have been sewing together these diamond shapes. I intend to paper piece them together but haven't thought of a design I like. The star arrangement below is traditional. These shapes are like a string quilt but I arranged them based on a crazy quilt pattern. When doing this type of work it is always best to use a foundation material, as you know I like sheets, so guess what the foundation material was for this. That's right a sheet. 

 String quilting & Crazy Quilting are really good ways to use up those ugly fabrics as they end up blending in well with the other fabrics, for example, where else could anyone use that neon pink material? These diamonds give a good indication of what I've brought out of thrift stores. None of this fabric is new. And if it was new most of the new fabric was given to me in swaps as charm squares just enough for using in a Crazy Quilt block. Now all I need to do is just focus on getting these UFO's done. 

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever they are.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Home grown

 The weather today was mostly a mix bag of windy, warm, and a spattering of rain. This is the kind of weather I like. Today was the day for the Jumble sale at the Baptist Church around the corner where I live. A short walk and I'm looking through items and trying not to bring home half the contents of the sale. I was good and came home with a couple of white sheets I can use for embroidery and some sort of baby blanket fleece I'm thinking of making up into a bear or something. I also brought two magazines, as well as two 750 jigsaw puzzles sets and called it a day leaving without a grand total of $5.

I also reused some timber stuff Dad had laying around the backyard and headed off to his tool shed to make these plant signs. Needless to say me sawing and hammering isn't one of the most elegant things to be seeing so it was good I was in the shed out of sight. Of course I am cautious of tools so no fingers were bashed or lost in the making of plant signs. I painted the signs up with white gesso and added lettering. I'll be looking for more timber to try a few more.

Nanna Chel of going grey and slightly green also brought us over a couple of her cucumbers ( She and her hubby live just around the corner from us). Thank you Nanna Chel, they are much appreciated.  
It must be a cucumber sort of day because Dad and Mum came back from Bunnings with Apple cucumbers to plant. I think they are finally getting the idea to plant what they like to eat even if it is in pots. 

I'm also embroidering, the teapot supper cloth and working on the Crazy Quilt too. There's a lot of material to be sitting under in the heat with the Crazy Quilt so it may be shelved for a autumn/winter project yet. 

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever they are.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Nice thoughts

The weather today has been really nice. It's been overcast and lovely and cool. Did I mention cool? No mugginess today either. It's nice sort of weather and good for pottering around to do things.

I've been playing with my paper. Making up pages in a journal and also making some cards. Some times I like to use one stamp and see what I can do with it with other stamps. In these three cards I used KaiserCraft Miss Match set and used the teacup and doily. I also added Tim Holtz stamps on one card as well. The paper range is from my stash: Graphic 45, KaiserCraft, and some no name brands. I also used a KaiserCraft 'collectible scrap' from their old Christmas range on one of the cards. Nothing new, just using up the paper pads I do have. The ribbon trim is from the thrift store I brought in a large pack of short trims and the flowers and leaves also came from a pack from the thrift store both were no more than about $2. The thinking of you sentiment is from the dollar store I brought a while back and the only really new thing I included is the bling which I brought last fortnight. The inks used are Memento dew drop inks and Stazon ink in black.

The image of the little girl came from Magic Moonlight Free Graphics Blog, which I had printed out a long time ago. The cut out frame around her I used my Making Memories Slice and it came from the Vintage Findings card. As you can tell I like playing with my paper stash and really paper craft shouldn't be too expensive to do. I made sure I brought two cutters I was happy with and knew I didn't have to upgrade again, so I went with the Big shot and I went with Making Memories Slice (now discontinued) because the cards had a good variety for less money. Things like trims can be found in the thrift store and there are plenty of youtube channels to show you how to make flowers of all kinds so you don't have to buy them. The main thing is loving what you already have and making the most of it.

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever they are.

Tea time

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever they are.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Summer Blue

We had another warm day today, but at least there was some breeze about to cool things down a bit. While I was out thrifting I noticed a lot of butterflies out and about. I came home with three books for five dollars so I think that was a good bargain. So much for decluttering. Oh well.
I've also began working on a supper cloth I've been stitching for a while now. I used two old bed sheets for this. One in blue for the teapots which are in each corner and a white bed sheet for the cloth base.  The original pattern came from a late 1970's craft book and it was one that had to be scaled up.
All the flowers or berries depending on how you look at it are done in French knots. The leaves will be done in satin stitch. I think that'll add a nice contrast. And I'll add a crochet border all around the hem of the supper cloth. If you didn't know, supper cloth is just an old fashioned word for table topper. I like the sound of supper cloth better.

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever they are.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Home life

 The weather today is what the older ladies in my family would say was: "A good drying day" Meaning it was fair, warm, windy sort of day; good for putting clothes out on the line to dry. Which I did. The house looked a bit shabby to me and while the parents were out for visits I set about cleaning. It's easy to romance homemaking cleaning chores but really cleaning is an awful job (to me at any rate). Especially in the heat. But I digress. The day was a good one too for opening all the windows and letting in fresh air. The laundry was done, along with the dusting and vacuuming and moping. Then every thing was taken off the line.

I'm not a perfectionist in anything but I try when it comes to cleaning. So I take a few hours getting into everything. I did mum and dad's room as I noticed it was looking a bit stale. My room was already much as I can with that room. I have a love hate relationship with it. I think right now I need to declutter again.

Meanwhile I have some patchwork pillow cases I came across. And some crochet trim I did. So I'll be adding the crochet trim and putting the pillow cases away for the one day house.

I also have some lavender drying. But the humid weather isn't helping with any of my flower drying. One lot is mildew-y so it had to be tossed out. I need to find a drier place. Hopefully the lavender will dry better. It's one of those days where nothing really interesting happens but a lot is accomplished and there's satisfaction in that alone. I think it was Anne from Anne of Avonlea who talked about those kinds of days:
“After all," Anne had said to Marilla once, "I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever they are

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Egg collector

We had some rain today which helped cooled things down just a wee bit. With the rain about it was a good day to spend in doors. Some time ago I brought a rooster tea towel with a crochet hanging top from the markets. And slowly but surely I've been adding a few more items to the set and now it's finished.
The Sun bonnet gal carrying eggs I had pinned on my Pinterest board: Sewing Basket for ages and finally printed her out and embroidered her. To be honest if I were to do this design again I'd either do her in applique or crayon tint. I think it looks alright with just embroidery alone but feels it's lacking something.
I crochet two dishcloths to go with this set as well. The Pattern for the shells and post dishcloth can be found here. The checkered pattern I saw on a youtube video the name escapes me at the moment but I will add in the link as soon as I can think of it. The potholder hen pattern is from a page of drawings I did a long time ago for cross stitch designs. I don't think five cents would buy anyone much these days let alone a egg or eggs. At least I can embroider make believe eggs that are five cents.

I think the set turned out nice. I had everything already in my stash to make up the items and didn't have to buy anything new.

If you care for the pattern for the sunbonnet gal, just right click on the picture and save. I've also included the pattern for the hen too. If my crooked dashed border bothers you, just straighten it up your self when you go to copy the image to your embroidery.
To make a potholder:
Lay backing fabric right side up. Front fabric right side down. batting down on top of front fabric. Batting is cut smaller all round. Add a hanging tab in corner (loop facing in and make sure it is on the right side!) Pin the hanging tap in place. Sew all around, (remvoing pin as you come to it), leaving a small opening for turning. Cut all corners diagonally. Turn out the potholder to right sides and slip stitch closed.
I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever they are.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Frugal simplicity

Right about now I think it would be nice to have some very cold weather or at least consistently cool weather. We've had another hot, cloudy and muggy day which is a bit of a contrast to other days we've been having. A couple of days ago I manage to take a photo of the Lilliput Zinnia's I planted. I didn't think these would come up, but there they are. My dad asked me what I did to plant them, he wanted to know if I stood from the back door and just chucked them into the bed because they are coming up every where in the bed. I think I watered them too hard and washed all the seeds here and there. Mostly, over there, where they shouldn't be if you get my meaning. So I know I can grow Zinnia's!
At the moment I am drying rose petals and mint leaves for some sachets I want to do.  And there is some stitching for a kitchen set. I used one of my designs from little sketches I did a long time ago in a sketch book that was going to be used for Cross Stitch designs.  The material I used from my stash. The backing is an old bed sheet and the white for the hen is also from a bed sheet. The fabric for the wing came from an old shirt I had that I cut up. The material might look awfully familiar to some of you who took home my bonnet gal tea towels and those who remember the Sunbonnet Sue kitchen set. There's still a lot of material left. Well, what I think is a lot. I did get a lot of mileage out of that old shirt which originally came from the thrift store in a bag for $1. It was one of those fill-a-bag sales.
I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever they are.