Little Menagerie Aprons

Much of the sewing-blog world is abuzz with preparations for International Quilt Market in Houston.  One day, I plan to get there, but in the meantime, I will have to live vicariously through others.

My friend Melly has gone there for the last few years. This year she has a collection of her fabric debuting there with Windham Fabrics; “Little Menagerie” By Melanie Hurlston of Melly and Me.

Due to the production schedule, shipping times and our location in Australia, Melly only received advance yardage of her fabric a few days ago, giving her very little time to whip up some samples for her booth, and the Windham booth.

I happily volunteered to make up some of my aprons (which I can almost make in my sleep) that can show off her fabric in the Windham booth, using my pattern that was just published in the current, “Kid’s Issue” of Australian Homespun.

I am really pleased with how they turned out (very cute, in my opinion) – and it was pretty cool to be sewing with fabric that is not yet available.

I used fabric that features Melly’s bees (and co-ordinates)

and some that features her Phoebe elephants (and co-ordinates).  We also had a little sewing bee on Friday and made curtains out of the white, confetti print you see above, to line the walls of her booth.  I am looking forward to seeing the photos of it, all set up – I know it will look amazing, bright and fun.  One day I will get to Houston, and taste the experience for myself!

So I think I have aprons out of my system for a while – I have to make something different next.

What would you make with Melly’s extremely cute fabric?

Mr. Monster Chef and the Wall of Malm

Mr. Monster Chef loves cooking in the great outdoors, in fact, he is a pretty outdoorsy kind of monster. When he is not cooking up gourmet Monster dishes, he loves camping, fishing and most of all, driving (as you can see by his choice of apron motif).

He even manages to entice Ms. Monster Chef outside occasionally, to join him in a rustic cook-fest.

I still have not managed to find out either Mr. or Ms. Monster Chef’s names, they just get so wrapped up in their cooking that they don’t talk much to me.

Here are the guesses we have made so far…Monty, Harvey, Hudson, Marvin or Morton, and Millie, Matilda, Marsha, Maddie, Petunia or Melly.  Which two names do you think are the most likely?

Meanwhile, sticking with the MMMMM alliteration,…….behold our new “Wall of Malm”!

We have been busy assembling IKEA furniture after a weekend visit in which the store was the busiest I have ever seen it.  Amazingly, they had everything we were after, in stock, and there was only about an hour wait to get it from the warehouse and get a spot on the loading dock to put it in the car.  At last count, IKEA products that the Family room contains include: a wall of Billy bookcases, a Lack sofa table, 2 Malm chests of 6 drawers and soon a new tabletop on our “lego table” all in Birch – we must be practically Swedish.  If only we could find a way to use the trusty allen (hex) key, to close up theat pesky gap between the two Malm units – it is driving Luke and I crazy!

Meet Monster Chef

Monster Chef’s loves to bake cakes, slices and desserts, usually while listening to the soundtrack from Monsters Inc.  Hmmmmm, chocolate and big band jazz, what could be better.

When dancing, Monster Chef prefers the “eight step” to the “two step”.  Since I have had Monster Chef with me, all my cooking endeavors have been extremely successful – must be all that happy dancing around the kitchen and fantastic cooking advice.

When we came back from our disastrous holiday, amongst all the bills that my neighbour collected was a mystery package.  Inside was a lovely surprise from my talented (and ludicrously busy) friend, Melly.  Fat quarters from her entire range of new Australian fabric.  The range is called “Where the Wind Blows” and is the debut line for her distributor, “Creative Abundance“.

It didn’t take me long to work out that the fabric really wanted to be a softie (after all, it was designed by a softie expert).  With my chef set in Homespun, hitting the news-agencies, I knew that I wanted to create a chef of some kind.  While I was tossing around a few ideas with the kids, Michaela suggested a monster and so Monster Chef was conceived.

Speaking of Monsters, see a furry blue monster’s take on the Old Spice commercials.  Grover (Sesame Street) talks about the word “on” in “Smell Like a Monster“.

Now look back to Monster Chef 😉 – all he or she needs now is a name,  “………. the Monster Chef”.  Can you help?

Get Cooking Little Chefs

I just opened my mailbox to see that the Kids Issue of Australian Homespun is out, containing one of my projects – A chef set for Girls and one for Boys.

I actually designed these a year and a half ago (when this photo of Rory was taken) when I was very close to having a whole book of projects of my very own published.  The opportunity fell through (thanks Global Financial Crisis) and I have been sitting on them ever since.  I am so excited to be able to share them in Homespun.

This was the prototype set, which you can see was made for a little friend, Kaitlin.  Doesn’t Michaela look young!

The strangest thing about having them published, is seeing them on other children, who are modeling them in the magazine.  If you want to make your own set, duck in to your nearest newsagent, and ask for Australian Homespun No. 89, Vol 11 No. 10 “The Kids Issue”.  You will find my project on page 82, along with a profile page all about me.

Please be sure to send me an email and photo if you make one of these yourself, I would love to see your apron and hat.

Happy Cooking!

The holiday we spent in our nation’s capital’s….


…………. largest hospital.

For the past week, we have been in Canberra on a family holiday. We went to see the sights and visit our friends, who moved there back at the start of July.  Unfortunately, we spent most of the visit sick.

We started out holiday with a lovely day out at Floriade – Canberra’s annual flower show, and celebration of spring. It had something for everyone. The weather was perfect, and entry was free!

We spent the whole day watching buskers, basking in the sun, and visiting different tents; containing all kinds of displays and shops. The kids loved the tent from Questacon, housing lots of different science and illusion exhibits.

Here are the boys using a machine that tested your reaction times – they tried to beat it by working together.

The next afternoon, when the boys were kicking a football, Rory fell and hit his head on the ground.  He felt really unwell afterwords and before long started throwing up.  We decided that a visit to the emergency room was in order.  The doctors were concerned that Rory had a head injury, and so he (and I) spent a sleepless night in the emergency ward, where he was observed hourly, and they tried to stop the vomiting to no avail.

Rory was placed on a drip for re-hydration, which did improve things, but he kept vomiting intermittently, so Luke took over hospital duty, and our girls went for a day with our friends.  By the second night, Rory was improving, but still not keeping food down, so he spent a second night in hospital, this time with Luke, on the paediatric ward.

By the third day, Rory was discharged in the afternoon.  Minutes before Luke and Rory joined the girls and I, in our hotel room, I suddenly felt terrible and started throwing up violently.  The head injury was looking a lot more like Gastro!

Within a couple of hours Amelia was also sick, and the pair of us spent “quality time” in bed together, close to the bathroom.  At this point (dinner time) Rory started falling asleep in his meal.  Luke was under strict instructions to bring him back if he became suddenly drowsy.  Even though it was most likely tiredness, from two nights sick in hospital, Luke was advised (on the phone) to bring him back.  Back to hospital they went for night number three.

Michaela was the only one of us to sleep through that night – the rest of us were too miserable/sick/uncomfortable.  Eventually Rory was discharged again, and Amelia and I emerged from our sickbeds.  For our final night in Canberra, I had fresh sheets delivered for Michaela and Luke (I was trying to contain the Gastro, as we had been switching beds a bit).  The kids were all put to bed, but Michaela was soon crying – she was covered in a rash, wherever her body had been touching the sheets!  She had some signs of rash earlier in the week, which I had put down to some artificial colours in some lollies, but I think it was a reaction to the detergent in the sheets all along, and the fresh set were more strongly laden with the stuff.

By this stage we just wanted to go home.  I put Michaela to bed, wrapped in our beach towels, and we all slept, ready for our last morning in Canberra.  We tried to revive the holiday by spending the morning at Questacon, the only place the kids were desperate to visit.  It was a great success.

The highlight was Rory’s drop from 6m high on the “Free Fall”.  You actually only drop a very short distance, before the slide (which starts of vertical and ends horizontally) catches you – it is designed to make you feel weightless.  Amelia and I were not really well enough for this type of experience, and Michaela was too small, but Luke also had a go.

After Questacon, we took off south, bound for Wodonga on the Victorian border.  The accommodation was great, but sadly Luke’s turn had come, and we both had another sleepless night – his much more miserable than mine.  The next morning, after a late check-out, we limped home, pleased that our holiday was over!

So Michaela was the last one standing, and two days later, is still well, with no sign of Gastro.  Now that you have read all the way through my horror holiday story, do you want to share yours?

Busy Kids

The kids were determined to enter a competition on one of their favorite websites – Moshi Monsters – by making two of the characters out of recycled rubbish.

Amelia and Rory made these guys out of boxes, cardboard rolls, milk cartons, and paper mache. I think they did a fantastic job. I told them they will have to share the iPod touch if they happen to win, (not a problem I am really worried about) but either way, we had fun making these guys.

A New Skill

It has been a super busy week here in the house of Matching Pegs.  It is school holiday time, so the kids are home and I am busy spending time with them.

Way back, (last Saturday) I went to a workshop with Kellie Wulfson of Don’t Look Now on Free Motion Quilting.

Here you can see Kellie’s capable hands demonstrating her favorite, and achievable free motion quilting patterns.

Amazingly, I discovered that with a little practice, I can do it too.  Here is the pillow that I started in the workshop and finished in the following few days.

Do you free motion quilt?

Peacock Finery

Way back in February, I bought a lovely floral bib-style necklace on Etsy, which is much admired when I wear it.  Admirers usually ask if I made it myself, and it slightly embarrasses me to admit that I didn’t. The embarrassment is due to the feeling that I certainly could have.  Yesterday I decided that the time had come to have a go myself.

Here is what I started with: some thick felt from my stash, 1 meter each of five different ribbons and 2 metres of a thinner Grosgrain ribbon to be used for the neck ties as well as in the flowers.  I picked up the ribbons at Spotlight for $13.77 to give you an idea of cost, if you want to try making one yourself.

There are many, many tutorials online for making floral flowers.  I looked at quite a few, and then dived in and tried it, (there was no one particular tutorial to send you to) using the materials I had on hand.  I was out of my comfort zone, using heaps of glue to make the flowers, which felt very strange, (oh a pun).  I used that tacky, stringy, clear craft glue to glue the ribbons to the felt backing as I twisted and turned them.  After the glue was dry, I cut the excess felt backing away from around the roses.

Sewing (as opposed to gluing) the beads and tiny buttons on to the centres of the roses felt more natural (there is that pun again – Dad would be proud).  It was great to be able to bust out the tiny button stars for a little dash of whimsy.  I also sewed the ribbon ties on, after applying fray-stopper on the ends.

I would love to show it on me, but I will have to wait for better light, and another grown-up to take the photo.  I am taking a class with Kellie (Don’t look Now) tomorrow, at our Guild’s Symposium, so I plan to wear it and someone can take a snap for me.  I am really looking forward to the class – I have not seen Kellie for ages, and apart from being very talented, she is really lovely.

This project was really fun, and easy to finish in an afternoon.  Are you going to give it a try?

Winged creatures

The weather is turning, and our local friends are starting to laugh a lot more.

This Kookaburra was very keen to make my acquaintance.  He/she spent an hour perching on different parts of our decking, coming closer, each time, to the glass sliding door.  Eventually he/she was only about a metre away.  At the time Michaela and I were making a birthday cake for her birthday party – stopping every few minutes to say hello to our visitor, through the window.  Eventually we were standing in the open doorway, where I took this photo.  Isn’t she/he lovely.

This is the cake that we made, featuring Michaela’s “Littlest Pet Shop” Butterfly, and some mushrooms made with marshmallows and Pfeffernusse I “painted” with red icing.

I think they kind of match my new cardigan :-).

What winged creatures are hanging out in your world lately?