Heavy Chain Stitch: Poppies

Sunday, March 27, 2011
I found the pattern for this Poppy embroidery piece in one of the old Embroidery binders that my Mum picked up for me from an Op Shop a few months ago. I finally took some time to look through them, and thought this looked like a challenge. It was originally for a set of place mats and napkins for the table, but seriously this took me so long and I only made one, I cannot imagine doing this 12 times over.

The entire pattern is stitched using the "Heavy Chain Stitch" which looks like this
This was my very first attempt at this stitch, but I think it looks so great. It is so much bolder than many of the other stitches I have tried, and it gives the design more definition and fullness. I think I will be using this stitch a lot from now on. If you are into embroidery you should definitely give this stitch a shot, it is actually pretty easy!

5 Favourites Friday!

Friday, March 25, 2011
Ok! So I am starting a new blog series! Called...
Every week I will choose a different topic and pick my 5 Favourites. So picking something for the first week was kinda tricky, but anyone who knows me knows that I am pretty into certain TV shows. So, I wanted to share my 5 fave tv shows. Hopefully if you have never watched them, or never even heard of them, it will give you something new to try out. They are better than most of the rubbish on free to air TV at the moment.

1. Breaking Bad:
When I heard this show was about a Science teacher come Crystal Meth manufacturer I was a little sceptical. After the first Crazy episode, I was hooked. The star of the show is Bryan Cranston, (you may remember him as the Dad on Malcolm in the Middle) as the troubled Walter White. He is fantastic, I never knew I could feel compassion for a drug manufacturer, but in Breaking Bad, I do. Every episode just leaves you desperate for the next, I recommend getting a whole Season to watch so you aren't left hanging.

2. Dexter:
Again another show that I wasn't sure that I would enjoy that much, but figured I would give it a shot. Dexter Morgan is a man with a "dark passenger." By day he is a blood spatter analysist for Miami Metro PD, the same work place as his verbally colourful sister Deb, a cop. His troubled past has led him to the life of a serial killer, but not just any serial killer. One who lives by a code "Harry's Code", who only kills those who deserve to die: murderers, rapists ect. He pushes the boundaries, and lingers on the line of getting caught. Again, another of those ones that I just can't stop watching once I start.

3. Parks and Recreation:
Just so you don't think I am all dark and broody, I had to add a comedy to the list. There are many comedies that I love (The Office, Community, Modern Family) but I think that right now I really enjoy Parks and Recreation. Amy Poehler plays the loveable and crazy Leslie Knope, the assistant director of the parks and rec department in Pawnee, and is extremely passionate about her job. But I think my favourite character would have to be Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), he is a hunter, loves all you can eat steak places, and avoids work at all costs, and hates the government.. even though he works for them. Anything that makes me laugh out loud multiple times when I watch is always a winner in my books!

4. Boardwalk Empire:Another HBO show, and a period show, based in Atlantic City in the 1920's during the Prohibition in the USA. Steve Buscemi is a fantastic actor, and he plays the main character Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, the treasurer of Atlantic City. It doesn't take long to see that Nucky runs the city including the roaring underground liquor production and trade. It shows the corruption and futility of illegalizing Alcohol, and how it leads the way for gangsters such a Al Capone to start a roaring trade in the liquor industry. I love the costumes, the cars, the way of life is so well done, and although I never lived in the 20's and therefore probably couldn't pick the discrepancies if their were any, it seems pretty well done to me.

5.Gossip Girl:My true colours are shining through! Yes, I am suckered into the girly, girly shows as well. Others I enjoy are (Grey's Anatomy and The Good Wife). When you need some gossip, backstabbing and game playing in your life, instead of really doing it, just use Gossip Girl as your outlet. Gossip Girl revolves around the ever entertaining antics of Serena van der Woodsen, her best friend Blair Waldorf and their friends, the rich of the rich in Manhattans Upper East Side. It is on Season 4 right now, and still going strong. I like it because I don't really have to think when I watch it, I can just chill out and enjoy. Joel used to hate it, but he got suckered in at one stage (although he wont admit it).

Hope you enjoy the first installment of 5 favourites Friday!!

Making a Fair Choice this Easter!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
So Easter is right around the corner (although surprisingly late this year) and during this time of year chocolate sales go through the roof! I like to use Easter as a good excuse to stuff myself full of chocolate guilt free.

If having a "guilt free" Easter is on your priority list, like it is mine, you may be interested in the range of Fair Trade chocolate that is available in Australia this Easter. You can not only gorge yourself, but also know that the chocolate you are eating does not come at an added price. If you are wondering what this price is, check out my previous blog post "For The Love of Chocolate" , it is all about the exploitation of children in the cocoa industry.

There are so many choices this Easter, because so many more companies are jumping on board and making Delicious chocolate without leaving a trail of suffering. I got this information on an email through my work today, and I was so excited to share all the great Fair Trade Easter options!
1. Cadbury - well everyone in Australia has heard of Cadbury, and this Easter look at this great range of Fair Trade chocolate, including a giant Easter Egg!!
2. Alter Eco - personally I have never tried this chocolate, but it sounds pretty good. They work with an independent chocolatier in Switzerland, and are 100% Organic as well. http://www.alterecopacific.com/wheretobuy.html
3. Chocolatier: So you can get this lovely range and more from Priceline, Myer, Oxfam Shops and more here http://www.chocolatier.com.au/stockist/Stockist.htm They also have two stores in Melbourne.

4. Lindsay & Edmunds : Another Organic option. Handmade single origin Belgian chocolate. Wow.... is all I can say. For stockist www.lindsayandedmunds.com.au and you can also order online.

These are of course just a few of the options out there. All the pics and details are from the Fair Trade Australia Website :
They have WAY more information and some great videos that really explain what Fair Trade Chocolate is all about, and why it is definitely worth the switch!!

Happy Chocolate eating, fellow Chocoholics!!


Friday, March 18, 2011

1. Replant Veggie Garden (incl reticulation)
2. Transform Study into Nursery
3. Renovate Kitchen
4. Have 30 items in my Etsy store
5. Apply for a Stall at Upmarket in June
6. Have products to sell at Upmarket
7. Learn how to sew on my vintage Singer
8. Go on a Holiday
9. Go swimming at least twice a week
10. Blog 3-4 times a week, consistently
11. Read baby books!
12. Get a new Hot water system
13. Get a Scrapbook page published

So the list is kind of extensive, but you need goals in your life, things that you can aim towards and things that drive you to achieve. Sometimes I feel quite happy just pottering along, and then after a while I look back and think, what did I actually do with my time. Was it well spent, and what could I have achieved if I had put my mind to it. I know the next months are going to go by pretty fast. I really don't want to just wish the time away, I want to get some things done that are really important to me! So putting it out there on my blog is a way to keep myself accountable.
Ask me on August 1st, what I achieved!!!

“20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do, than by the ones you did. So throw off the bow-lines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. EXPLORE. DREAM. DISCOVER.” Mark Twain

New Project: Baby Nursery!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

This is my very, very cluttered office and soon to be baby's room. This is a massive job, as you can see there is a lot of big bulky stuff in here that will need to be sold or moved to another part of the house, and well to be honest, there isn't a lot of room in the rest of the house!
The plus side is that at least it is in the right colour scheme, although I am debating painting the hogsbristle wall (window wall) a nice dark grey. I want to say that I am not really panicking about getting everything ready on time, but that would be a lie. I think about it constantly!

I have been trying to brainstorm about what sort of theme or style I want to go for in this room. I don't want anything too babyish, because he will be a big boy very soon. I don't want it over the top or too cluttered with junk. I am inspired by the ideas of retro furniture and design (except for the cot which obviously needs to be up to Australian safety standards) because our house is a cottage built in 1949 , bold colours, fun and organized! Here are some of the fun things I have found that inspired me, and are helping to guide my ideas about what to do in here:

This is from the gallery at Project Nursery: I think I have that same chest of drawers already! Bonus. What I am really in love with is that amazing retro rocking chair. I would LOVE to find one of those, amazing.
Seeing I am all about Embroidery! This room from DesignDazzle takes my breath away. I actually think I will do this, and I already have recruited a couple of volunteers to help! Would go so well with a retro theme as well!
Project Nursery: Blackboard Paint!! How fun.. kids (and Mums and Dads) can drawn on the walls and then wipe it right off! I love this idea, I am not sure about a whole wall, but it needs to be incorporated somehow!
TEEPEE!!!! I saw this in a magazine a couple of months ago and really thought it was a fantastic idea. I guess it wont be used for a little while so there is no rush, but what a fun D.I.Y project for later on. I can imagine little boys loving their own indoor teepee!
This is another Project Nursery idea. I saw these little dog tails at Ikea a while ago, I always wanted to buy them because I like them so much, but never had anywhere to put them. Then I saw this fabulous idea! I also like wall decals, this is a cute little poem, and something that I can easily make at home on my Cricut Create! Through my hunting these are just some of the ideas I have found, I really cannot wait to get started. Unfortunately I have to clean out all the old stuff first, and that just does not sound appealing...

Another Love: Scrapbooking

Saturday, March 12, 2011
A favourite pastime of mine is Scrapbooking. I know, it makes me sound old right? I really enjoy it, and that is all that really matters. Sometimes when you have really nice photos that you love, you want to do more with them than just post them on Facebook. This is where Scrapbooking comes in handy.

Although I love to do it, the truth is for about a year or so I haven't really touched much of my scrapbook stuff. Which is a shame because I have a lot stored up from the USA. I even have my awesome Cricut Create cutting machine, and the Sure Cuts A Lot program on my computer, which I love! I guess the problem is I am just not really set up for it. Hopefully when our new office is sorted I can make it so that I can scrapbook and craft without making the whole house look like a wreck.

Yesterday, I pulled out some of my gear and started to cut and paste and play with paper! This is what I came up with!

This is a TTV (through the viewfinder) photo that I made of Angus and I "dogboarding" which I love. The rest is a mix of patterns and designs that shouldn't necessarily go together, but I liked the way they looked!

Here is another page that I did about a year ago, I love these pics!
The purple sheets have hand drawn triangles on them, something that I always do on the sides of my notebooks when I am in lectures!

I'm surrounded by Boys!

Thursday, March 10, 2011
But that is ok! Our house soon is going to have one more Male member! That is three against one.. uhoh! But the gender odds have always been like that in my family, being the only girl with three brothers. That said, I love the boys in my life and I am so so so so excited to add another one to the mix, and Joel is pretty excited especially because he had a feeling the whole time that we were having a boy. We found out today at the 19 week ultrasound that we are having a Boy. He was not being very cooperative, sitting and lying in all sorts of funny positions trying to hide from the sonographer, but that just meant we had longer to watch him, about an hour, and it was amazing. Just seeing him kick those legs and spread his fingers apart and then make a fist was awesome.

I have added some pictures, I like them, I hope you do too!
My Dad suggested that this last one could indicate a future AFL player, although Joel already has plans for major league baseball haha!

Home is where you are...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I really love this saying, and anyway you take it, whether it be "Home is where YOU are" or "Home is where you are" it just feels right to me. Maybe it is because over the years I have made my home in many different cities and states, and wherever Joel and I are together I know that it is home!
This hand embroidered piece is up in my Etsy shop as of about 5 minutes ago! Click on the picture above for a direct link to my Etsy page.

D.I.Y Dog Chew/Tug Toy Tutorial

Wednesday, March 2, 2011
A few months ago I was looking for some new toys at the pet store for Angus, and they have a wide array of things, but they are pretty expensive. I am not really willing to fork out the cash for for something he will either lose in the front yard, leave out in the weather or chew to pieces. So, I decided to figure out how to make my own toys for him. I really wanted to share it, because it is so simple and so easy and most people have everything they need to make them already.

What you need:
1 or 2 old t.shirts (depending if you want a multi-coloured toy)
A sturdy pair of knees to hold it as you make it! ;)

Step 1:
Find old t.shirts, and then cut them into 4 strips, depending on how large or small you want it you can cut anyway you want, and any thickness you want. Some shirts don't have seams down the sides so you can cut straight across, others it is better to cut lengthways. I cut mine about 5-7cms wide

Step 2: Tie all four strands at one end into a knot.

Step 3: Put the knot between your knees, or something that will hold it firmly in place. Lay out all four pieces as shown below.
Step 4:
Take the strand on the bottom left and loop it over the strand on the bottom right (brown over white in the picture)
Step 5: Take the top right strand and loop it over the top left strand. Top brown over top white.
Step 6: Take the bottom right (white) strand and bring it over the first loop and through the second loop (brown)
Step 7: Take the top left strand (white) and place it over the the brown loop on top of it, and through the loop on the bottom.
Step 8: Start to pull each of the strands (two at a time) tighter. As you start to pull them they should make a square shape like this
Step 9: Pull them in as tight as you can until they make a nice little knot like this
Step 10: Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat (you get the picture) until the strands have become quite short at the end. Making sure you leave enough room to tie a knot at the end.
The final product should look something like this
The tightness you make your knots, and the longer the fabric, and the thickness of the fabric you use to make the toy will larger or smaller depending. I recommend using 10 or more cm thick strands for big dogs. Also, if you have a dog that tears things apart quickly it would be wise to watch them play with it, or play with them!!

Step 11: Give it to you beloved pooch!

Angus loves these toys! The best part is they don't cost me a cent. Hope you enjoy making them. If you have any questions or feedback I would love to hear it.