The Wedding Gift

Home made cushion for a Wedding Present, using hand-printed fabricWhen I receive a wedding invitation which requests that attendees “bring no presents”, it invariably translates in my head to read as “bring a handmade gift”.  The only quandary in this recent situation was what to make? Especially because the bride in question is widely known as an accomplished designer and maker of lovely things.  The answer was to use some rare and unique hand printed loveliness from another clever lady, and to keep it simple.hand printed fabric made up into a cushionNow you will notice that the colours are rather subtle, even though Melly herself is very much into ‘bright’, but that was my cunning plan.  Melly’s decor is rather more restrained than her designs, and this will hopefully blend in, and still allow her creations to be the stars in her own home.Wedding Cushion Back

I thought it would be only polite to her lovely groom, Scott, to be a bit gender neutral as well.  I’m pretty pleased with how it all turned out, especially with an invisible zip and a feather-and-down-insert, that has just that perfect amount of squishiness.M & S tag on the "wedding cushion" which includes the wedding date.To commemorate the reason for it’s creation, I added this little tag to the cushion, featuring the initials of the bridal couple, together with the wedding date, skating close to the edge of nostalgia but hopefully not tipping right into shmaltz.  If you notice the date, you might realise that mid-September in Victoria can be quite chilly.  That being so, I was pretty pleased with the outfit I put together.Claire and Luke dressed for a weddingNot only was the dress lovely (IMHO) but it was from Target, (so quite affordable) and went perfectly with a vintage, toasty-warm coat that I have.Wedding outfit with vintage coatThe coat was my Grandmothers, and possibly belonged to her sister Verna before her.  Verna was very stylish, and was married to Cleg, who had a well know fabric store in the centre of Melbourne, which still bears his name.  The coat is British, I’m guessing it is from the 60’s and it is marked with the Royal Warrant!Royal Warrant on a Aquascutum CoatSo I was nice and warm for the ceremony, which was outside on a deck, overlooking the vineyards and surrounding countryside.  As a final touch, I took another vintage item, this one belong to another of my Grandmother’s sisters, Rita.Vintage Lucite HandbagThis was Rita’s lucky handbag, one of my most prized possessions.  It is made of Lucite, and I believe it would be extremely collectible.

I would love to share some photos of the stunning bride, bridal party and venue, but that would scoop the bride herself.  Stay tuned to Melly’s blog, because it was all stunning.

Do you make handmade Wedding Presents?


My Gelaskins arrived!

The Front of my ipad2 with the gelaskin "Volcano" on it

For my recent birthday I received an ipad2, which was very exciting.  I was just as excited to pick out a set of  Gelaskins, to protect it from scratches, as I was to open the ipad box.  It took quite a bit of deliberation, as they have quite a selection of lovely art, but eventually I decided on “Volcano” by Alex Noriega.  As Gelaskins are a Canadian company, (on the other side of the world) I have been waiting a little while for it to arrive, and anticipation has been building.

The back of my ipad2 with a Gelaskin applied - "Volcano"

It has been well worth the wait!

Because this is a WiFi version, it is not likely to leave the house much at all, (It doesn’t have a sim card) so I feel secure in my decision not to enclose it in a permanent rubbery or solid case.

My ipad2 in it's Gelaskins covers, with the fabric I plan on using to make a soft case

I do plan to make a soft, padded case, and this is the likely selection of fabrics.  In the meantime, I will just spend lots of time admiring the Gelaskins, in much the same way that I enjoy making little piles of lovely fabric to caress when new fabric purchases enter my home.

Do you do that?  Keep piles of new fabric close at hand, to admire and pet?

Wrap Skirt

Wrap Skirt Complete

After a 6 week absence, I finally sat behind the sewing machine, and made something!

This is my new wrap skirt – made using the “Make it Perfect” pattern – “The Versatile Wrap”.  I love the fabric, but I have to say honestly that the pattern is a great disappointment.  It is very basic and shapeless – something that would not bother me much if it were a free tutorial, but bothers me a lot when I paid $16 for it.  I suspect that all the bloggers who wrote about this being a “great pattern” had not made clothing before.  Having grown up with a prolific sewer for a Mother makes me quite aware of what should be expected of even a basic garment pattern.

Low Light photo of skirt

Forgive me for this low light photo -it has been very grey here, so this is the best “self-photo” I could accomplish.

I made several modifications to the instructions, to try and give the skirt more shape and to finish it more neatly.  I added 2 darts to the back panel (4″ long 1″ wide) and 2 darts to each of the overlapping front panels (3″ long 1/2″ wide).  I also sandwiched the raw edges of both the top and bottom of the skirt, inside the waistband, and hem trim.

I probably would not have made this up at all, once I had a look at the pattern itself, had I not already purchased exactly the required amounts of fabric.

I am going to have to get a copy of Nikki’s book, next time I want to make a wrap skirt, I know that that girl can write a great pattern.

collection of lego minifigures

I thought I would share with you the little collection of characters that are behind me on the window-sill in the self portrait, (beside our front door).  The kids and I have been collecting the occasional Lego Mini-figures.  These little folks come in opaque packs, and it is luck that determines who you find inside.

Lego Minifigure - Vampire

One of my favorites is the Vampire.  The kids have arranged them in order of which series they came from – series 4 is the series in Australian stores at the moment.

Lego Minifigure Kimono Girl

Kimono girl is another favorite – there was much squeezing of packs, trying to work out which one contained her solid-block “legs”.

We are a Lego-loving family, and currently have 9 mini-figures in our collection: Zombie, Demolition Dummy, Deep Sea Diver, Vampire, Race Car Driver, Samurai Warrior, Kimono Girl, Sailor and Artist.

Do you have any at your place?



On the weekend, the Mr. and I celebrated 12 years of marriage.

I use the term celebrate lightly, because we didn’t actually go out for dinner or anything, but the whole family had a special meal together at home – Thai Chicken with Cashews, yum!  This special meal was cooked by the man himself, my one and only.

I love you Mr., more and more with every year that passes, and every drama we face together.  Goodness, we look younger and younger in this photo as each year goes by.

On another topic, here is a tantalizing glimpse of what I have been working on.

But because it is a present, I can’t show you yet.

I have really enjoyed working with this calm palette.

I promise to show you the finished present as soon as it is gifted.

What colours calm you?

Last Oklahoma Roses


When Amelia was born (over nine years ago) I planted this beautiful rose to commemorate the occasion.  When later we moved (twice in 9 months) the rose came with us in a large tub.  This time we are leaving it behind, as it will be a little complicated to extricate, and there is no obvious place, in the sun, to plant it at the new house.

Today I cut these, the first roses of the season, to enjoy them in our last days in our little house.  Their scent is divine.  If I end up finding a suitable spot at the new house, I will track down an Oklahoma (A rich, dark, red, hybrid tea) rose to plant again.

If not, I will still be able to enjoy them, we will pass the house daily on school days, I just won’t be able to pick them.

We move in 8 days – I am not sure when I will post again – this moving business is hard!  Perhaps when I next post it will be from our new house.



Well we have done it – and it was relatively painless (which is to say, it was pretty stressful and exhausting, but could have been much worse) and we got what we wanted for the place we have called home for 7 1/2 years.  While we polished our home until it shone, I felt quite sentimental and bittersweet.

Our home is clearly too small for us, and the new house is going to be fantastic, but there is so much of our personality stamped on this little house.  We have put lots of love into it, and the garden, and I will be very sad to leave.  I am sure I will find it hard to go past every day on the way to school with the kids – I hope the new owner takes care of the garden.  A man in his late 50’s, or perhaps early 60’s, has bought it.  He wants to live in it, (thank goodness – I know I would have been really sad if it was turned into a rental) but his children are all grown, so the house will be positively large for someone on their own.

Now that it is all sparkly, (the real estate copy said “A Sparkling Family Home”) would you care for a tour?


I know you have seen it before, but this shot of our bedroom shows the bedside tables that we borrowed from my Mum and Dad, which happen to actually match the bed, unlike the ones we own.  They also make the room look larger as they are much smaller.  How sad is it that we both need a clock radio – I recently bought mine because at night, with my glasses off, I can’t read the one on Luke’s side of the bed.


This is Michaela’s room.  It usually has a different set of drawers in it, but these match so nicely.  The chest of drawers is mine, and was inherited from my Grandmother – sadly it does not match our bed either.  There is so much more storage in the cupboards in the new house, that I think this will go in our lounge room, and store table linen, place mats and good cutlery – that way everyone will get to enjoy this treasured piece of furniture.


This is our bathroom, which sits between the second and third bedrooms.


It was really hard to shoot the kid’s room – it was such a grey old day, but here you can see where Rory and Amelia sleep.  They are both very excited that they will be getting a room of their own.  The beds they sleep on have actually served three generation of my family.  They belonged to my uncles, and then my twin brother and I.  Mine was painted bright apple green by my father when I first went into it.  I repainted it yellow when I was about 19, and I painted my bedroom in the same colour.  Rory’s bed is still the enamel red that my brother Julian had.

You have all seen this shot before….


…but never the other view – the shelves have been too messy.


It is amazing what removing 1 1/2 shelves worth of stuff and rearranging can do.


The lounge leads through to our lovely sunny meals area and kitchen, scene of many a blog photo, and containing the ubiquitous blogging poster.  Usually this area is filled with a much-too-large table that actually accommodates all 5 members of the family.  Currently it is in the garage, and the equally lovely table from the early days is in it’s place.  Both tables were in the family, and were lovingly refinished by Luke and I.  This little round table will probably be going in my sewing area – what a thrill it is to say that!


Here you can see the kitchen and laundry beyond – that door at the end is the only toilet in the place.  I am really going to enjoy sending guests to a toilet that actually has an adjoining bathroom, so that you don’t have to wash your hands in the laundry trough – and did I mention that after the move there will be 2 toilets – we will have an en-suite!!!!!  I really loved this kitchen – I can see almost the whole backyard from the window above the sink, which is perfect when you have small children.  We hid sundry items like the toaster, kettle, laundry baskets etc every time someone came through.


So this is also where the magic happens!  That second shelf, with all the red boxes, is actually my current “sewing room” and you can see where my sewing machine has always lived.  Thankfully it has a hard cover – the kids often sit on it to eat a snack, while watching telly – they are not allowed in the lounge with food.  So where do I keep my stash?  back in the lounge at the bottom of the shelves.


These clear boxes are what I like to think of as my “active” stash (the blue box is full of kid’s puzzles).  My stash is fairly diverse, but mainly made up of fat quarters or smaller pieces, due to the limited space.  There are two of the smaller boxes at the top of the bedroom cupboard which contain fabric for a couple of projects that I am not ready to start – mainly fabric I purchased in the USA in 2007, as well as some upholstery weight pieces.  I don’t dip into these fabrics so they are in a pretty inaccessible place.


Lastly on our tour – the deck and backyard – scene of many a happy barbie.


Thanks for indulging me on a nostalgic tour of our home – I can’t wait to show you the new one after we move!

Lucite Handbags and Delayed Gratification


Way back in January 2008, when I started this blog, one of my first posts was about this handbag that belonged to my Great Aunt Rita.  It is one of my most treasured possessions, and I always wished that I knew more about it.

Thanks to a recent episode of Collectors, I now know that it is a Lucite Handbag, probably from the 50’s.  “Lucite is a type of plastic which was used in aeroplane manufacturing during the World War II. After the war, it was allowed for use in the production of luxury goods including Lucite handbags.  These glamorous bags were made in America and almost entirely in New York”.

There are no trademarks on the bag so I am not sure which manufacturer made it, but it sounds like it is highly collect-able.   As mine is in very good condition, it could be worth a bit, but of course it is worth far more than money to me.

On another note, here is a really interesting (long) article about measuring childrens’ ability to delay gratification, and what that indicates about their ability to achieve in life.  It starts off describing “The marshmallow experiment” from the 1960’s where pre-school kids were given a marshmallow, and told they could eat it, but if they could wait until the researcher returned, without eating it, they could have two, instead of just one.  Only about 30% of kids could wait, and some kids ate the first one almost immediately.  The article is about the ability to master self control, and I found it via Unclutterer, another interesting website about taking control of the stuff in your life.  The people at Unclutterer mention the article in the context of training yourself into “having routines in place that keep the clutter out of your home and office and the self control and diligence to systematically complete the routines that keep your life in order.  Doing these not-so-fun tasks everyday ultimately pay off because you have more time and less stress in your life overall”.

It all sounds so good – I read Unclutterer because I wish I was a little better at dealing with all the “stuff” in my life (school notices, bills especially) but it all makes me wonder – as a 4 year old, would I have eaten that Marshmallow – would my kids?

What about you?  mmmmmm, marshmallow………



This is my cooking man.

For the first 26 years of my life he lived in my Grandma’s kitchen.

Since she passed away he has lived in mine.

Since Sunday he has been without his hat – he will never wear it again.

We woke up Sunday morning with Ants all over the kitchen – there was no food left out, they were searching for water, thanks to the big dry.  In cleaning up, his hat fell off, and shattered into hundreds of pieces.

I sobbed for about 10 minutes.

20090225-chefnhatLet me just state for the record, that there are probably only 3 or 4 things in my house that would actually illicit such a response from me.  Even as I sobbed I was thinking of the people who have lost their whole homes full of precious things in the bush fires – feeling kind of guilty that I was taking it so hard.  As I cried I was thinking, how lucky am I that this is all I have lost.  It didn’t make the loss any smaller though.  Thankfully it was me that was carrying him, I would hate anyone else to see me cry like a baby and feel responsible.

Amelia, my wonderfully creative daughter has made a new hat.  Five minutes with the paper, scissors and sticky tape, and he is a new man.  Now I have two people to associate with my cooking man.


Today I came home with these beautiful gelati coloured mugs (Confetti Latte Mugs from Maxwell & Williams).  Not only do they come in a whole rainbow of colours, of which these are only 5, but the matt texture on the outside of them is just divine.  Michaela is completely enamoured with the tiny pink espresso mug, and has been sipping water from it all afternoon.

I didn’t need them, they were an extremely indulgent purchase, but as I unpacked them the penny dropped.  They were kitchen specific retail therapy.


These frames were another purchase – an amazing bargain.  Every second one cost$1.91, the other ones were $3.83.  Target were doing a 50% off the second frame, and these just happened to be heavily reduced.  But that’s not all.  Each one is really a two for one.  Here are the other sides…


Now I just have to stay away from the shops for a while – I should only be buying stuff I really need.

Made any entirely emotional purchases lately?

Almost a dip into the archives (long post)

I have not been doing any sewing or crafting.  Latest news confirms that 1831 homes have been lost.  The death toll stands at 181, but is expected to top 300 as there are many more homes to be searched and many people still missing.  31 fires are still burning across the state, and Melbourne sits under a cloud of haze.  The fire season is expected to last for at least another two weeks. With so much tragedy so close to home it feels wrong to loose myself in creating, and I am not inspired at all.  Here are some photos for posts that were going to happen before the fires started burning up our state.


This Divine handbag was made by my fellow quilter Debbie, out of fabric I chose on our trip and “Quilt-shop-a-thon” down to Loch.  The pattern is The Sherbet Bag by Melly and Me.

20090213-outsideatticquiltsThe paisley and the pale purple fabric on the sides is from the Sanctuary range from 3 Sisters for Moda, which was released years ago, so I was lucky to stumble across some in Attic Quilts in Berwick. Over on the left are Julie and Debbie holding Molly (our Quilting Guild’s Mascot) outside Attic Quilts, which was only the second quilt shop we visited.

Here are some of my other purchases…..20090202-purplenpeaches

This pile of fabric is all for the one project.  The little rolls are delicious, hand-dyed fat eights.  Most of these were purchased at the first shop, Craft Haven of Berwick.  The itty-bitty tube you can see is full of lovely Straw needles for needle turn applique, and they were recommended by Kellie of Don’t Look Now – she was right, they are lovely.  Debbie and I were lucky enough to have lunch the other day with Kellie – later in the year she is going to come and talk to our Quilters Guild.


20090213-juliewallaceThe bag on the left is full of fabric from The Quilters Barn in Loch, and the overflowing bag on the right is from Candleberry Country in Yarragon, which was so full to the brim with beautiful fabric.

Molly was making friends at all the shops on our tour.  Here is Julie Wallace of The Quilters Barn holding Molly, despite the overwhelming bustle happening in her shop.  During our visit in there, the power went out and they could not even open the till.  We managed to make our purchases none the less.


While we were in Loch, a cool change swept through the place, which was so refreshing after a week of intense heat.  Unfortunately it meant that the quilts that were hanging everywhere were flapping in the very strong breeze – it was very hard to take a photo in focus.  Before we had seen them all, the quilts were being taken down to avoid damage in the weather.  Here are some photos I managed to take, however the photo quality is not good, my apologies.

This lovely wedding ring quilt is to inspire my friend Christine who is making one at the moment in 30’s fabrics.


Simone, this one is for you – it was a similar scale to the basket wall hanging you made Debbie – tiny.

20090207-rosesThis last quilt was beautiful, and massive.  It must have been a years worth of work, if not more.  I wish I had details of the makers, but I didn’t manage to grab a typed list.

Below is a picture of Debbie’s stash from the weekend.   From memory, pictured are fabrics for a skirt, two quilts, two bags and parts of several other projects.


On our tour I bought a couple of books, and these two fat quarters – actually the only pieces of fabric that I bought without particular projects in mind – they were just pretty.


Both the books were ultra pretty as well, and I actually have a signature in one of them.  Rosalie Quinlan who wrote “Gift”, the book on the left, was set up in the hall in Loch with her similarly creative sister Melly (Of Melly and Me – link in post above).  Debbie and I chatted to them for ages – afterwards we decided that they must have thought we were their craft groupies, as we were probably gushing with enthusiasm.


Rosie and Melly (pictured here with Molly) are currently running a silent Auction, selling some of their Softies – the money is for the bushfire appeal.  The auction runs until tomorrow morning, so go and take a look here.

I will post soon on some more things I have made recently, I may even start sewing again in an effort to buck up and be a little more positive.


Here are two pieces of work that are inspiring me at the moment.  I have put them back into circulation and they are above the dresser at the foot of our bed.

The Door Into The Garden – Grace Cossington Smith 1892-1984.

I just love the use of colour in this one, in fact it is full of colours that I love to use throughout my house. Grace Cossington Smith was instrumental in introducing postmodernism to Australia.  Probably her most widely recognised piece of work is of the Sydney Harbour Bridge under construction, called “The Bridge in Curve”.

Girl With Cigarette – Agnes Goodsir 1865–1939

Not much is know about Agnes Goodsir, but I did manage to find this little profile on the web.  I just love this portrait, (even though I wish cigarettes were not involved).  Unfortunately, you can’t really see the colours correctly in this shot – have a peek here for a more accurate depiction, thanks to the Bendigo Art Gallery.

Both are prints which I fell in love with, and purchased from the Bendigo Art Gallery years ago.  Because I did not have enough money to have them framed, I had them laminated at the University print shop – a move that allowed me to decorate our rental on the cheap, all those years ago.

Here is a little more decorating on the cheap.  That sad looking picture above the bed is what is going to be replaced by my new painting, when it is completed.  The roses are actually 5 pages from an old calendar, attached to a large piece of cardboard (Which came off some Billy shelves from IKEA) with spray adhesive.

Actually, using prints from calendars is a really good way to get a collection of matching prints you can frame for not much money.  Michaela’s room has three framed prints from a calendar based on the illustrations from The Illustrated “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe“.  The illustrations are by Christian Birmingham, who does lovely work.  If she was not tucked up in bed asleep, then I would take a photo for you, but you will have to follow the links instead.

What are your cheap decorating tricks?