Saturday, 29 December 2018

2018 Craft

How are you all going with the leftovers?  Are you as sick of ham yet as I am and do you have some new inventive recipes to keep the family happy?  My fridge seems to be back to a normal size again and not bulging at the seams because of the excess so that's a relief.

  These last few days of the year are turning out to be quite calm for us.  It's all quiet with crochet and cricket for me and games and quiet time for the kids.  We're planning a couple of outings just to get us out of the house but none of us seem very interested in doing too much at all.

Quiet meanderings seems to be how we're ending out the year and perhaps a few more outings once the New Year begins.

On the craft front, the second half of 2018 proved quite productive for me.

The first half not so much as I was still trying to deal with paperwork and putting into place strategies with the school and paediatricians etc for the kids.  That took up so much of my time over the past few years that I pretty well put everything I loved doing on the back burner.

After starting Miss R's blanket way back in January and only working on a few rows in months, she got a little impatient and kept nagging asking me when I was going to finish her blanket.

So in the second half of 2018, the hook was picked up again and it not only reminded me of how much I love crochet, but also how much I needed to do something for me.   It's okay to look after your family but it's not okay to put them before you for pretty well everything.   You shrivel and waste away inside until one day you realise that you're a shell of the person you used to be.

So finishing Miss R's blanket has been the spark I needed to turn things around and what a turn around it's been!

So here is a peek at what I've finished this year.  Enjoy!


Miss R's blanket from Stylecraft DK in colours she picked herself.



My granny square blanket from all the leftovers from Miss R's and Master M's blanket.




Little makes including a beanie and scarf for Master M, some spring bunting, plenty of dishcloths and some butterflies (which proved equally frustrating and fun).



Plenty of headbands as a request for a friend and some little mittens for Master M's mate at school.



My shoulder bag which I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!  More can be read about that here.



It's not all been crochet though.  I made some shopping bags which were gifts for school teachers and a few family members for Christmas.  Pretty and practical!




I also made some little ouchie packs for one of the teacher's at Master M's school for her little charges.




Some scarves were made.  One in a beautiful alpaca which my Mum gave me a great pile of and I'm still trying to work out what to do with it all.



Then there was my lacy scarf which I don't think I've shown you.  This was a stash buster project and is a pattern I use whenever I have a small amount of yarn left.  In this case it was one 50g ball of Noro yarn and I was able to make something light and pretty out of it.

I've got a free pattern on Ravelry for this scarf so if you have a some yarn leftover from a project, this is something that can be whipped up in no time and you have no waste then.




My Sea Green Shawl was a wonderful to work on and is so soft and beautiful.



I love the way this shawl feels and the way it drapes around you.




Another brighter shawl was made in a classic granny stripe.



My Summer Breeze poncho has proved a hit and I'm loving the beachy colours of this one.  It's so perfect for throwing over my standard uniform of jeans and t-shirt if I'm running out the door and want to oomph up my outfit a bit.




I made a second one as well but adjusted the original chain length and went up a needle size to open the pattern up a bit more.  I do like it but not as much as the original as I think the lace effect is a little too open for me.  It's great for summer though and the pattern for the original poncho is now available here.



I'm working on another couple of projects and one of them will probably be finished before the New Year but I'm not putting time limits on anything I make, especially in the school holidays.  They will get done when they're done and I'll show you more in the near future.

Wishing you all a safe and enjoyable New Year and hope that 2019 is filled with all that makes you happy (and a few less leftovers!).

xx Susan

Sunday, 23 December 2018

It's almost Christmas

I have to say that I'm glad I was organised last month and got most of my Christmas shopping done as it's made this last week leading into the big day quite relaxed.  

Everything is very low key here right now which is good because it's really hot and STEAMY.  It's usually pretty humid around these parts but it has been pretty incredible the last few days and it really doesn't feel very Christmassy.

We've been putting the air conditioners on early and Patch and I have been able to go for a really early walk before it gets too hot.  It's certainly not cool at all but it is a bit more bearable than a little later in the morning.

I've still been working through my yarn stash and I'm happy to say that it has dwindled greatly in the second half of 2018.

My latest make I've started is a wrap in a beautiful brushed alpaca silk.  It's taken a bit to get used to using the brushed alpaca and I wasn't sure I liked it at first.  It's so light and soft and the wrap feels like air or a soft cloud already but you don't want to make a mistake with this yarn as it can easily snap off if it gets caught when you're working with it.

We are becoming firm friends now though and I'm really looking forward to seeing how this one turns out once it's finished and blocked.  All in good time though.




A few little extra gifts have been made and are now wrapped and under the tree.  

Buying what gifts I needed to a few weeks ago and making some others has meant that I haven't needed to go anywhere near the big shopping centres in the last couple of weeks which is a blessing.  The volume of people rushing around this close to Christmas would send me into a meltdown!




I've also made another summer poncho but went up a hook size this time to make it a little more open.  I love it but I have to say that I like the original one better.  This one will be perfect at the beach though.

Oh, and there was only one join in the three balls when I was making it so that made me much happier!




It's not just all been crochet though.  We've had plenty of rain during the first week of the school holidays and Master M was sick the first few days so I did get plenty of happy hooky time, but I've been preparing for Christmas as well.

I haven't felt stressed this year which is good and have just been making one or two things each day.  Anything that can be frozen has been made early which leaves just a few things I need to do over the next couple of days.  

Gingerbread muffins have been made, some with cream cheese icing and some plain.  These are a perfect Christmassy snack and are fantastic for breakfast.

 Cheesecake, parmesan shortbread and Irish coffee brownies (with a good dollop of Baileys :) are on the list to be tackled over the next two days as well as roasting a stuffed turkey breast which is to be sliced up and eaten cold for lunch on the big day.




We're off to my sister's for Christmas lunch this year and we always have a cold lunch with plenty of salads (I'm making a mango salad).  I think we've only ever had one hot Christmas lunch in my whole life and I remember it being such a hot day with the ovens on and the barbeques cooking the meat.  Cold meat, prawns and salads are certainly much more enjoyable when it's hot.

I doubt I'll be popping in again before Christmas so I wish you all a wonderful, safe and happy day with your families or friends or whoever you enjoy your time with.  

Stay well my friends and Happy Holidays!

xx Susan




Sunday, 16 December 2018

Headbands and other ramblings

Christmas seems to be hurtling closer but everything has come to a bit of a grinding halt around here this weekend.

Making it through the last couple of weeks of school for the year is usually a bit of a challenge and I had the added bonus of being sick and having a horrendous cough that I couldn't shake.  It was exhausting, draining and very annoying, especially as I'm rarely sick so I can't say that I coped all that well with not being able to get as much done as I would have liked.

The bonus of being sick is that I ended up having to rest a lot more than I usually would and since I can't just lay or sit there without doing something, I got plenty of crochet done.

I've finished my commission for a friend which was a number of headbands.  She wears them all the time and wanted them specifically in black and white.  I've got 8 of them completed and ready to go for any season she wishes.  She also wanted them a certain width so I ended up working on a couple of easy patterns so that I could adjust them to any size.




She now has some lacy ones for summer and some a little denser for cooler weather.

I have to admit I've had fun making them and ended up making a few extra smaller coloured ones for a friend's daughters.




There has also been some Christmas baking although not as much as I had planned.

Gingerbread and cupcakes were made for school end of year parties (or fiesta as Master M called it).  






School is now out for the year and we all seem to have let out a collective sigh and just flopped about after the whirlwind of the past few weeks.  I'm feeling better but Master M has been a bit sick so it's back to being up and down like a yo-yo at night and pottering about during the day.

Luckily it's been raining quite a bit as a result of the Cyclone north of us which has made it perfect for a quiet start to the holidays.

I've asked the kids what they would like to do over the holidays and of course the Zoo is usually the number one thing that comes up.  Master M wants to go on picnics and go camping and Miss R hasn't a clue but will be very vocal when we do something she doesn't want to do (which will be most things her brother requests).

It's early Sunday morning here and I'm enjoying the quiet of a house with sleeping children inside and the world waking up outside.  The birds are noisy and active already, and the light is gently creeping into the house.  In the distance is the rumble of thunder and the promise of an early morning storm which is the perfect way to start the day.

Later I'll be going through my Christmas 'to do' list which has been sadly neglected lately and see what I can get a head start on.  Perhaps I will just do some Christmas baking as I seem to be in the mood to potter about the kitchen today.

Enjoy your weekend my friends.

xx Susan

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Calendars

It's the time of year when Calendars of all descriptions seem to fill our lives.  Advent Calendars are popular of course and there are so many amazing ones out there.  It's also a time when we start thinking about wall and date calendars for the looming new year.

For the past decade I have given a calendar as a Christmas gift to Grandparents and Great Uncles.  They're loved by everyone as they're full of photos of the kids from the previous 12 months.  They're also a practical gift for people who don't really need anything.

Around October or November I start collating the photos from the year, picking out fun ones as well as beautiful ones.  Sometimes I realise that I don't have a photo of both kids together then I have to try and organise a happy photo of them together which is not always successful.

Below is a sneak peak of this years gift.  I won't show you more in case the recipients read this and we don't want to spoil it for them.




Lots of websites these days do photo gifts including calendars so you can pick which template you like, upload the photos, add them and faff around with them in the calendar then order it.  It's a great thing to do when you can't sleep at 3am.  By the time the sun comes up, half your Christmas shopping is done!

Last year I tried Vistaprint calendars for the first time and I was really unhappy with the quality of the calendar.  The cardboard was thin and cheap and as you'll notice in the next photo, the corners curled in rather quickly.  

This year I've gone back to my usual Snapfish site which is an Australian site.  They do great quality calendars and often offer discounts so you just need to be on the lookout.  For those in other countries, I'm sure there are some great local sites there too.  Just beware of cheap priced ones, it usually means cheap quality cardboard.




Advent calendars are also being opened every day here.  It's all chocolate (Master M) and candy (Miss R) for the kids.  I found some other ones that I thought they would like until I realised the cost of them and stuck with the sugar rush.  The kids love having a treat at breakfast at this time of the year!

In past years I've used the Advent Reindeer line which have pockets in the back of the stockings for treats.  When the kids were little I used to put in a rubber ball, a Christmas stamp, a lollipop or any other small (cheap) thing that I thought they would like.  By far the best year was when I printed out a Christmas colouring page and rolled it up like a scroll with a piece of ribbon.  They loved having a special colouring page each day.




I usually do a candle for myself but have found that in years past I would forget to blow it out and then two or three days would burn down at once.

No such problem this year as I found a tea light advent which has been perfect.




Behind day 1's little door was a sweet glass candle holder with gold stars on it.  Each day there's a candle with the loveliest Christmassy smell that I light and then let it burn out to its hearts content.  I don't have to worry about remembering to blow this one out!




The other calendar taking up my time at the moment is my financial calendar.  It's very simple really and is just a cheap one from the local discount stores.  I like to get a paper one each year as they're so much easier to write on and then start adding when bills and things are due.  

Only financial things go on this so I can keep track of when not only loans are due but our rates, electricity, water, car and boat registration as well as dog registration.  In the top corner I jot down what bills are due in that month so I never have any nasty surprises.



It certainly makes keeping a track of our finances so much easier and I can quickly look at it to see what's coming up in the future.  I also started keeping track of it this way because hubby's not the greatest when it comes to finances and it's quick and easy for him to see what's going on too.  Not that he usually looks at it though, he still asks me!


What calendar things do you have going on at the moment?  I like being organised so if you've got some ideas please share!

I hope you are enjoying your week my friends.

xx Susan

Friday, 7 December 2018

Shopping totes

For many years I've been making shopping bags for the kids school teachers for their end of year/ Christmas gift.  I first began making them for myself to use up some fabric then started giving them out as gifts for family and friends.

This year they have become an even more significant gift since Australian laws changed earlier in the year and there is now a ban on single use plastic bags.  It's an awesome initiative and covers all retail establishments, not just grocery stores.

These bags aren't just quickly whipped up either as they're fully lined and I even add a box like structure to them.  Of course I like them to be pretty too.

With the amount of fabric I had I was able to make two of each of the bags so I have a few extra in my gift cupboard to hand out when the need arises during the year.





Not only are they fully lined but I like to give them a bit of a box shape just like the old brown paper bags.  These are much sturdier though!













So another school year is almost done, gifts have been handed out and I'm trying to cope with the whirlwind that is the end of the school year before I have to deal with the kids 24/7 until the end of January.




I hope everyone's Christmas plans are coming together and that you have a wonderful weekend wherever in the world you are.

xx Susan

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Tree Day 2019

My sister began Tree Day many years ago when my kids and my nephews were tiny.  It usually occurs during the first weekend of December and basically involves the kids decorating her Christmas tree and house.

It's not entirely that basic though as each of the children receive their first gift of the holiday season which is a special Christmas decoration from my sister.





Once they get their new ornament then they get to go through their own box of previous years ornaments and decorate the tree.





As the kids grow older (and taller), the decorations now seem to make it further up the tree.  In the beginning they were all clustered around the bottom but now, thanks to nephew J who is proudly taller than both his Aunties, (which is not difficult as we're both short!), the upper boughs can be reached.




It's lovely to see favourite decorations being found and remembered from previous years.  There are plenty from my sister's travels like the Beefeater from England, the piper from Scotland and the gold dipped maple leaf from Canada.

All decorations are dated with the children's names and year they were given as well.




Sophie enjoys watching the festivities these days as she is starting to slow down a bit.  This is her first Christmas without her beloved friend Jess who we lost a few months ago and I've also just realised that this is the kids first Tree Day without Jess who was there from the beginning.




I also have no more photos of this special day because in the heat wave that we're having at the moment and the 38 degree celcius (around 100 Fahrenheit)  day we were experiencing, I am sick.

What a time to develop a cold and a nasty chesty cough for a person who is rarely sick!  It hasn't been fun at all.

So instead of being out in the action and enjoying the afternoon, I was banished to a room far away where I could sneeze, cough, hack and blow my nose in my own little quarantined space.

We also decorated our own house a little.



The tree and a couple of things are up but the rest will have to wait a few more days until I feel a bit more festive and am able to decorate with a bit more enthusiasm.




Somehow though, I have finished my granny square blanket made out of stash yarn.  I will show you that in the coming days when my energy levels rise a little higher and I catch up on the back log of things that didn't get done while I was out of action.

Enjoy the rest of your week my friends.

xx Susan