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Craft Collections

Mum and I recently took a weekend off, for a little road trip to Bunbury, a favourite haunt of ours.  We wanted to relax, sit on the beach, collect shells and just chill out for a couple of days.  Sadly, the weather was pretty awful and so we only had one clear afternoon for visiting the beach without being blown away or drenched.  Never mind – it was an enjoyable few days anyway and we felt much more relaxed and mellow.

We tootled around with no plans or schedules.  I had researched a bit before we went, so that I had some places in mind I wanted to visit.  I definitely wanted to go to a few places that Mum would really like and, seeing as how she doesn’t drive, wouldn’t be able to go to on her own.  So, with that in mind, I took her to Craft Collections, a gorgeous shop filled with everything a quilter could desire.  Wall-to-wall fabrics and sewing supplies, with special gift items related to quilting, patchwork, bear-making, and sewing in general.  Mum was in heaven and prepared me for a long stay as soon as we walked in the door…

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So much fabric!

It was all displayed beautifully, and the staff were so friendly and helpful.  Mum wandered around for ages, picking out fabrics and fat quarters, wadding, embroidery threads and more.  It was hard to choose – there was so much stuff!

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Pretty displays!

A favourite fabric artist of ours is Tone Finnanger, the creator of the Tilda brand, and Craft Collections has an entire room dedicated to her.  It made me want to start sewing immediately (which is odd, because I am NOT a sewer!) and Mum could barely restrain herself from buying everything in the pretty little room.  Tilda designs are sweet, cheerful, feminine and cute, and the drawers full of fat quarters were so inspiring.  We wanted everything!  Tilda also has delightful range of patterns, kits, books and embellishments like ribbon, lace, buttons, and so much more!

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Fabulous Fat Quarters!
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The Tilda Room – I’m never getting Mum out of here!

So, I can thoroughly recommend Bunbury’s Craft Collections as a wonderful spot to stop and indulge your sewing, quilting or fabric obsession.  If only as a way to keep your fabric-mad mother quiet for an hour or so 🙂

Happy crafting, everyone x

 

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How to Measure Christmas

Christmas Day is just around the corner.  I can’t believe how quickly it has come up this year.  I probably say that every year, but this last twelve months has whizzed by, and so much has happened.  It’s been such a strange, disturbing year, with a lot of loss and grief for so many people.  I don’t know about you, but I am praying for a much kinder 2017.

My Mum is currently suffering with a nasty cough/virus and it makes me very anxious.  I can’t bear for her to be ill.  She is always so healthy and I sometimes forget she is a senior now, and small illnesses can be potentially dangerous.  Also, being sick at Christmas sucks!  I know she feels miserable and concerned and also annoyed that she can’t do a lot – she hates neglecting her garden and other chores.  I just worry incessantly, especially as I am not just around the corner but 30 minutes drive away, and I can’t keep a close eye on her.  Luckily, my best friend’s Mum is just around the corner – in fact, she is taking Mum to the doctor’s this morning (I would have done but had no one to cover me at work). Hopefully she will get some antibiotics (even though she hates taking them, she admits she probably needs some this time) and be on the mend soon.  We’re meant to be spending Christmas Eve with my brother and his family, but I don’t know if she will be well enough at this stage 😦

It’s funny how, in the lead up to Christmas, you think about all the things you would like, and hope that Santa obliges.  This year, I just want my Mum to be well, and for us all to have a nice, peaceful, stress-free time together, with no dramas.

This week, I managed to get all my Christmas shopping done in record time.  I have less people to buy for this year, for one reason or another, and it made it much easier.  I made a few gifts too, which meant less spending (always a good thing) and less stress (a very good thing).  I also decided not to do the fancy wrapping I always do, which usually ends up with me stressed out of my brain and wrapping gifts every night until midnight, making sure they all fit a “theme” and all look decorative and pretty.  Not this year.  I used store-bought wrapping paper and did nothing fancier than tying them with string.  I didn’t even use matching tags!  *gasps*  It just made everything so much easier and quicker and reduced my stress by about a million percent.  I am wrapped and done, ahead of time.

Whilst looking for gifts for my Mum, I pretty much followed the list she had given me (an Ian Rankin book, some gardening stuff, a Michael Buble CD, pyjamas) but I always like to get her some other little extras too, so she has some surprises.  I found this set of measuring cups in an op-shop and thought she might like them.  They look vintage (although I suspect they are not) and I liked the little Wintery scene on them, which I thought would also make them ideal for Christmas decorating, if Mum didn’t want to use them as actual measuring cups.  I just thought they were sweet.  And at $5.00 for the three, I wasn’t exactly breaking the bank.

I hope she likes them, and is well enough to enjoy all of her presents.
That’s all I want for Christmas.

Best wishes to you all.  Stay well and take care of each other x

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Easy Chocolate Truffles

Tomorrow is my Mum’s 70th Birthday.  I decided to make her birthday cake, as you do, so she would have something to offer guests when they came to visit her (she’s having several little soirees to stretch her special day out).  Cue much culinary disaster and chaos. Everything I tried to do tonight ended in failure.  To start with, I couldn’t find my kitchen scales so couldn’t make the cake I had wanted to create, then I spilled sugar all over my bench, then the cupcakes I made were horrible and inedible.  Finally I decided to make truffles because I only had a few ingredients left and couldn’t bear having to bake anything else.  I had seen truffles made with only a couple of ingredients, and not needing butter or cream, so I looked for a recipe that would suit and – hey presto! – Slice of Kitchen Life  came to the rescue with this easy-peasy truffle mix.  I have adapted it slightly but it is still the basic recipe and principle of the original.  They’re made with water, which goes against everything we all know about cooking with chocolate but, trust me, it works!

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INGREDIENTS
  • 200g dark (70% cocoa solids) chocolate
  • 6 tablespoons espresso coffee (cooled to room temperature)
  • 2 and ½ tablespoons maple syrup (at room temperature)
  • Two Tablespoons Crunchy Peanut Butter (the 100% peanut kind -not the kind made with added oil, sugar etc)
  • To serve:
  • Sifted cocoa powder and / or dessicated coconut for rolling truffles in
 
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. In a medium bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, gently melt the dark chocolate.  I usually take it off the heat well before it is full melted and then just keep stirring until it’s all melted down.  The residual heat in the bowl will do the work for you, and then you don’t end up with burnt choccy!
  2. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Add the liquid coffee and begin gently stirring with a silicone spatula. As the liquid is incorporated, the chocolate will seize and thicken.
  3. Add the maple syrup, a spoonful at a time and again, gently stir until the mixture is smooth, glossy and thick.  Stir in peanut butter.
  4. Chill the truffle mixture for at least 45 mins – 1 hour. It will continue to thicken as it chills which will make handling a lot easier.  Be patient – it seems like it isn’t working at first but then – voila! – it suddenly hardens and you’re good to go.
  5. Measure out a generous teaspoonful of truffle mixture at a time, and roll into a smooth ball in the palms of your hands.
  6. Roll the balls in sifted cocoa powder or coconut until well coated, pop into mini-cupcake papers, and store in the refrigerator until serving.

This recipe makes about 15-18 truffles, depending on how large you like ’em!  They are very rich so smaller is better.

I’m so relieved something worked out tonight.  My kitchen looks like something exploded and I have melted chocolate all over me, the benches and the floor, but hey, your Mum only turns 70 once, right?  I wish I could have made her something a bit more spectacular but hopefully she will appreciate these anyway.

Happy Birthday Mum – I love you very much xxx

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Joy

A quickie post to show you a little collage my Mum has just finished.  It’s gorgeous – very Kelly Rae Roberts-inspired (we love her).  I’m so jealous that Mum can do eyes and faces – try as I might, I CANNOT GET THEM RIGHT.  I’m glad she is working on some things for herself (she normally paints and sews items that always end up being for someone else) and just enjoying the process of creating again.  I’m hoping she starts to finally get some things, that she has made, on her walls (at the moment they’re kinda blank, waiting for just the right painting or artwork) so she can fill her home with beautiful things to be proud of and treasured.

She’s working on some collaged wooden eggs now as well as some other canvases.

Love this piece – it does indeed bring me Joy to see my Mum happy and making art again, just for her and no one else  🙂

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Doodle Drama and Poorly Mama

Doodle Drama and Poorly Mama

I had a somewhat dramatic night on Saturday when my Mum stayed over.  We were going to go to a craft & antiques fair on Sunday morning, so it’s just easier if she stays overnight at my place.  We had a nice early part of the evening – yummy dinner supplied by my super wonderful library volunteer (she makes the best curries and is nice enough to bring me some regularly), watching some TV and chatting about what we hoped to find at the craft show.  My Mum had a sore finger – she thought she had a rose thorn or something in it – and asked me to have a look and maybe lance it.  I did so, using a very sterile scalpel blade and made a tiny wee cut in the finger.  Barely any blood and nothing icky like pus coming out of it.  Mum started to feel a bit queasy so she sat on the floor while I put some disinfectant on the finger and a little bandage.  Then, feeling even more queasy, Mum passed out.  Quite dramatically (thank God she was on the floor already and didn’t fall from a standing position).  The worst part was I couldn’t make her wake up again.  She didn’t come round for what seemed like ages.  It was probably only 20 seconds but it seemed like forever.  Finally she came to and sat up again.  She then began to be sick.  And sick.  And sick (thank God again for handy buckets!).  She felt dreadful and so nauseated.  I managed to get her back to the couch to lie down (keeping the bucket nearby).  She was still being ill and I decided to call an emergency health line. They gave me advice and asked lots of questions before giving me some numbers to call for an emergency, after-hours doctor.  I was lucky to get one to come out within 30 minutes and he checked Mum over and said she would be fine.  He gave her an injection to stop the vomiting and told me to just let her sleep it off.  Which she did.  Yours truly, however, stayed wide awake, listening to make sure she was ok.  Once I heard her snoring (ha ha), I knew she was comfortable and asleep.

In the morning she popped up like a cork, as though nothing had happened.  I could tell she wasn’t quite right though, despite her saying she definitely wanted to go to the craft show.  We did go, and had a nice time, but I was worried about Mum.  I kept nagging her to go to a GP and get the finger looked at and herself checked out again.  She did so on Tuesday and got some antibiotics and is now feeling better.
I will be in therapy for the rest of my life however.  I thought I had killed her!

Another, rather less distressing drama is my search for the perfect marker pen (or textas, as we call them in Australia).  I use a particular kind of paper, when I am drawing my little doodles that I use on cards.  The paper was given to me years ago by a friend of Mum’s and it is glossy and matte all at the same time.  I think it is a kind of photo paper…or possibly the paper they put between photo paper.  I don’t really know – she just gave me a huge bundle of it.  Anyway, I have used it for years as it works so well with coloured markers, giving the finished design a neat, almost printed effect.  Well, I still have lots of the paper, but my textas are running out (I’ve only had them 15-20 years, you’d think they’d last a bit longer ha ha).  I have looked for similar ones EVERYWHERE.  And I mean everywhere.  I have bought countless packets, trying them out to see if they work in the same way.  But no.  It’s doing my head in.  I have a theory that the ones I am trying now are all super non-toxic and full of modern whizz-bang ingredients.  My old ones were probably made from mercury or whale-oil or something.  I need to explain this in pictures…Below, you will see several little figures I have drawn and coloured.  Notice the seamless, bright and uniform hair colour?  That texta is still working – just.  See how there is no blotchiness to it?  No lines or colouring marks?  The green dress and blue dress at the bottom are coloured with an almost-running-out texta.  See the blotchiness and the uneven colouring?  It’s not too bad but with the new pens I have bought, it’s dire.  The colour is so unsaturated and you can see all the colouring lines and it’s horrible.  Horrible!  (am realising now I should have taken a picture of the new colouring for you but it was just too heartbreaking).  So what’s a girl to do?  I am thinking if I can’t find the right pens I will have have to change my technique, maybe do them in water colours on different paper and use a permanent pen for the outline.  Sigh.  But it’s all about change and growth, right?  Not getting stuck in a creative rut, trying new things?  But I like the old things dammit!  I’ve tried all different brands – cheap ones to expensive ones (hello Copic!) but to no avail.  So sad.  Oh well, I will keep trying and maybe a change will improve my little pictures and start me off on a new creative path.  Who knows?

May all your days be frustration free and void of fainting Mothers! 🙂

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Festive & Frosty

Festive & Frosty

Sunday evening rolls around quicker than…well, something that rolls around quickly!  I don’t know where the year has gone – it’s flying by, and each week seems to go quicker than the last.

Still very sad about Boyo.  So I won’t make this a long post – I know I get overly dramatic at times and I don’t want to do him a disservice by doing that now.  We loved him very much and now he is gone, and we are so very sad.
That’s all there is to write.

I will say that being creative is as good a way as any to take your mind off sorrow and loss. Today I spent a day at home with Mum (she stayed with me all weekend so she wouldn’t have to be in an empty house) and we crafted and read, drank tea and spent time in the garden together.  I made a few more Christmas cards (trying desperately to get enough done for Christmas and my sale in a couple of weeks) and was fairly happy with the results.  It was nice to have someone with me to bounce ideas off.  Sometimes you just need another pair of eyes to tell you if the red button looks better than the green one, if  the card needs lace or ribbon, or if a background would be better in cream or white.

So here are a selection of some of the cards I created today.  What do you think? 🙂

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Op-Shopping is good for the Soul (but not so good for the purse…)

Op-Shopping is good for the Soul (but not so good for the purse…)

It has been a long week.  A. Long. Week.  At short notice I had to empty my entire library within the space of two days.  Not an easy feat, even with a tiny library such as mine.  But it was done with the kind help of several of my workmates (not library staff – counsellors and other lovely staff members just giving me a hand) and as of Friday afternoon we had moved everything out and covered what was left with plastic sheeting, ready for several walls to be knocked out over the weekend.  I am exhausted to say the least.  I’ve been getting to work at 7:45 and working until 5.30, trying to get it all done while still attempting to get some of my normal work completed (I gave up on that by friday morning – it was just too hard).  I’d like to say when I go in to work tomorrow morning that all I will have to do it move everything back, but, unfortunately, we are also, at some stage soon, having the entire building painted and re-carpeted.  I am having slight stress-outs about the whole process, but have so far not collapsed in a heap or burst into tears.

I haven’t had time to really miss all my other colleagues.  Which is probably a good thing.  I have had phone calls and emails and some visits from them so I’ve not been abandoned entirely.  When the library is all back in one piece and things have settled, I will “feel” the loss of my work buddies and be sad, but right now I don’t have time.

Anyway, the weekend was very, very welcome by the time it came around and although I had promised myself I wouldn’t spend money, I failed miserably and did exactly that.  After meeting up with a friend in the morning for a coffee and catch-up session, I drove over to my Mum’s as we had planned to go to a movie together.  Both of us were so tired and really not in the mood to go to a noisy shopping centre and deal with people and lining up for a movie etc.  So we piked on that idea and decided to just go op-shopping and then back to my house for dinner and a DVD.  Bliss!  So much better to be comfy at home and chill out with cups of tea and a good movie.  Mum has been planning and designing her garden – she’s been painting little models of the plants she wants so she can have them standing up on the design plans, to show what they will look like as you look over the garden.  Smart huh?  And how pretty are her little painted models?

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And the op-shopping!  Oh Lord, the op-shopping!  You can do a lot of damage to your purse over the course of an hour in a good op-shop!  Yesterday was no exception.  I was looking for some nice knits – cardigans and jumpers and tops – and boy did I find them!  I ended up buying seven.  Ridiculous!  I have nowhere to fit them all so have had to have a bit of a cull this morning of my old stuff (time for a clear-out anyway, I’m starting to look like a bag lady).  The knits I found were in such good condition (which can sometimes be hard to find where 2nd hand knits are concerned) and in lovely colours and styles.  I got stripes ( I have a thing for stripes…I blame it on Tim Burton) and plains, studded details and interesting necklines.  Anyway, this is what my couch looked like when I brought them all home…

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I also bought a few magazines and a little plastic bead box (only 75c and I can never have enough bead storage).  I found a cute little salt shaker for a dollar – it is just right for storing some of my little beads and will look pretty on the shelf with all my others jars…

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I also went a bit crazy with scarves…I’d already gotten two on Ebay this week (couldn’t find any in the shops I liked) – an animal print one and a butterfly-patterened one :

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…and then Mum found two pretty ones in the op-shop that I really liked (if I’m truthful she went “Oh, these are nice!” and I sorta-maybe-kinda snatched them up for myself – hey, it’s every man for himself when you’re op-shopping!  She stopped me feeling too guilty by grabbing a photo frame I had spotted, so we’re even now) :

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…how cute is the cat one?  And I love polka dots, plus that magenta colour is awesome 🙂

I had a quick look at the jewellery section to see if there were any nice beads…found this bracelet made with heavy glass beads (love the purple) so I bought it too:

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So, all in all, a pretty successful day.  My purse may be a tad on the light side now, but I didn’t really spend that much, all things considered (a heck of a lot less than I would have spent in a shop selling new stuff) and it was a nice way to spend a couple of hours, instead of moving furniture and bookshelves.  I’ve done some gardening this morning and hoovered the house, done a couple of loads of laundry and washed the dishes.  That’s enough housework for one day.  If I’m feeling energetic I should go for a walk later (was supposed to go this morning with a friend but she had to cancel) but I can see that not happening.  It’s cold and miserable outside – better to stay indoors and do some crafting or, if I’m sensible, some ironing (how does one person accumulate so many baskets of ironing???). I should also be completing my tax return (ugh!) and sorting out my divorce papers (double ugh!) but I am procrastinating on both.  Neither fills me with joy or happiness, and I think things like that should be avoided…although I really did mean to get the divorce stuff sorted this week – just ran out of time and kept working late each day.

Hope you are having a good weekend, doing whatever you enjoy doing most 🙂  I don’t suggest filling out divorce papers OR tax returns.
Filling your tummy would be far more acceptable – go eat a cookie (on me) 🙂