Holidaying on the coast together, there has been plenty of time for swimming and sandcastles, birthday cakes and fishing. Our sewing machines have been untouched... but there is always tomorrow!
Since I've had children, long, lazy Sunday afternoons have lost their lustre. Rather than spending time reading a book or sewing, I frequently face the 'how am I going to entertain the children?' panic.
There are plenty of 'old favourite' activities around here - books, dressing up, 'concerts' and dancing, but sometimes a slight twist to an old favourite can make it seem like an exciting new adventure.
We love play- dough and cookie dough play-dough is a real hit around here. The aromas of vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa and mint add another dimension to the imaginative experience and you can scent it by using basic pantry ingredients. You might be thinking why not just make real cookie dough and bake biscuits? We do that too , but it is possible to have too many home baked goodies in the house!
Everyone has a favorite recipe for play-dough - so start by making a batch. If you don't have one try this -
Mix 2 cups of plain flour, 4 tablespoons of cream of tartar, 2 tablespoons of cooking oil, 1 cup of salt and 2 cups of water in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir for 5 minutes or until it congeals into a play-doughy consistency. (Hey - you get an upper arm work-out, too!)
While it's cooling, head to your pantry cupboard and find some cocoa (not drinking chocolate!), cinnamon, vanilla extract and any peppermint essence
When the dough is cool, divide it into 3 balls. Into one, kneed 3 tablespoons of cocoa, into another 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and two teaspoons of vanilla and into the last ball two teaspoons of peppermint essence. Lizzy insisted that peppermint had to be green, so I also added a little green food colouring.
Sometimes the additions to the play dough make it a little dry, so you might want to need a little more oil after you've added your' flavourings'
You're done... grab some cookie cutters and start 'cooking'!
While visiting the lovely Magnolia Square markets in Paddington on the weekend I discovered (and bought) these divine prints by Printspace for Mart's room.
I've been looking for some inspiration for his room for ages. I had been considering red and navy but couldn't get enthused. These prints have certainly clarified the look I want - boyish but not too grown-up.
Of course, I had to get some material for a quilt. A quick trip to Calico and Ivy and my ideas are certainly starting to shape.
Hopefully over the next few weeks you'll start to see Mart's big boy room take place. It's so nice to be celebrating my boy!
This week I decided I had too much on to 'play along' with Project Run and Play. It's become a strange and bizarre obsession, however and as soon the theme was announced as vintage and retro I just couldn't not have a go.
I love the style of the 1920s - dropped waists, pleats, delicate lace and rosettes all equal ultimate fashion for the girly-girl in my eyes.
I tried to create a child friendly version of a flapper dress this week. While this dress would have been gorgeous in silk, using an art-deco inspired quilting cotton means that it's easily washable - a necessity around here! I used MrsPriss' fabulous felt rosette tutorial and made the flowers into a rosette brooch - easily removable for those days a girl doesn't feel like accessorizing...
A box pleated skirt and a square neck complete the look - grab your glass and let's all do the Charleston!
Let me present to you a little sound bite that can be heard in my house after breakfast, every single morning. The location is always the same too - right in front of Lizzy's wardrobe. It goes a little something like this -
"No. I won't wear that. No, I don't look beautiful in jeans. No... that skirt is too scratchy...No...it's not pink...No, that skirt is too short and it's denim."
Cue tears and hysteria from Lizzy and general noises of frustration and dissatisfaction from me.
I like clothes, I'd even go as far as to say that I love children's clothes, but Lizzy and I have reached a point where our tastes are starting to diverge. Me? I'm a tailored kind of girl - neutrals, denim, maybe a bit of colour here and there in shoes and bags. Nothing earth shattering or out there - definitely no frills. It seems that the clothes that I pick for my children are the same too. Denim, navy, red, a bit of pink but definitely no Disney. I think they look pretty cute and stylish.
Lizzy, however, doesn't agree - unless it's pink, soft, long ('how can you dance if you can't twirl your skirt, mum?') and ruffled, she doesn't want to have anything to do with it. As a result, the wardrobe has become a battle ground
After one too many skirmishes I've decided to capitulate. Before I know it, my beautiful baby girl is going to want to wear dresses that are too short, t-shirts that are too tight and, god forbid, adorn herself with a tattoo or a piercing (probably both). Who am I to complain when she prefers Liberty prints to navy stripes? She's her own person.
I've recently discovered the Japanese Happy Homemade pattern books (who knew that sewing was an international language?) and am making their beautiful , simple dresses up in the most girly delightful fabrics you can imagine. Oh... and I'm making them long!
The result? A little girl who can twirl who way through the day and looks cool, comfortable and cute.
After all, you can still look for lizards in a long dress...
reach for flowers for flowers in frills ...
and play with your baby brother in Liberty!
It's probably something to do with my past life as a high school teacher, but there is something about the beginning of the year and a brand new term that I just love. I used to get excited by new exercise books and pencils, but right now I'm super excited about Sew Together's latest purchase...
eight brand spanking new Brother machines for our next series of classes that are beginning in February. They're computerised, very flash and I can't wait to introduce them to our next group of students. We've also been stocking up on lots of notions - lovely Clover marking pencils and some Gorgeous (with a capital G) fabrics. Life doesn't get much better!
Yes, after a super relaxing Christmas and New Year, it's been all go here at Sew Together. High powered meetings have been on the agenda and plenty of cake and coffee has been consumed!
There has been some time for sewing, though. At the end of last year Kat, from Mumma's Time to Create sent me some gorgeous fabric and I couldn't not sew it up into something straight away. I still can't seem to kick the bag habit- I was really pleased with the finished product...
It makes me want to jet off to Paris! Unfortunately, I'll have to be content with carrying a little piece of it with me in my bag.
Happy New Year to you all - I'm off to play with my new baby... (the sewing machine, that is...the kids are asleep!)
How did that happen? I was planning the perfect Christmas Eve post, I blinked and it was New Years Eve! Note to self for next year - do not ever think you will have time to write a blog post on Christmas Eve. Despite my best attempts at improved organisation I still didn't get to bed until 1:30 Christmas morning!!
So why do I have time to write a New Years Eve post? Will and Pippa are tucked up in bed and I am manning the home front. Rob and Madeleine disappeared at about 8pm to see the 9pm fireworks - I can hear them rumbling as I write this post. Madeleine was so excited to be sneaking off with her Dad to do something so grown up.
Maybe next week I will write about the wonderful Christmas time we had and share some of the highlights but tonight it seems appropriate to look at the year past and the year to come.
The Year Past
Without a doubt, the highlight of 2010 was the arrival of this little bundle of joy on April 22nd:
He is loved by all. He only has to look at Madeleine and he giggles. If Pippa is upset, her first response is "I want to cuddle Will."
Welcome to your family Will. We are so glad you found us. We couldn't imagine life without you.
My other great joy has been witnessing the beautiful relationship that has developed between Madeleine and Pippa.They are a team. They giggle at night in their shared bedroom. We occasionally reprimand them, but mostly listen secretly from the hall way to their chatter, their shared imaginary stories and their mischief. They watch out for each other. They comfort each other when they are hurting and know how each other works only like sisters do.
Talking about teams - there is Rob and I. (I can't find a recent photo of the two of us!) We have been very lucky to spend a lot of time together this year. No grand dinners or grand holidays. Just lots of hanging out, being parents, tag teaming and making each other smile when the going gets tough. I don't think I would have survived the year without him and Madeleine, Pippa, Will and I would certainly not have had so much fun. He is a man of infinite patience, kindness and love.
The Year to Come
I am not one for grand New Year's Resolutions but here are a few ideas I'd like to see through in 2011.
Lets talk about what counts - Sewing!!!
I am thinking that 2011 will be a year of Japanese inspired craft.
The cloths for children are so pretty:
The adult cloths look so wearable. (Rob gave me this book for Christmas)
And the embroidery patterns are sweet without being cutsie.
I'm tempted to say I will make a quilt - something fresh with lots of white, lots of bright colours (maybe turquoise and red) and some sort of circle design. I like the idea but I have never been good at long term projects.
I saw this chair at the Prints Charming Market Day and fell in love with it. Something similar is definitely on my list of projects for 2011. I have to admit I bought enough charm packs to cover a whole lounge suite!
Well, Madeleine and Rob have arrived home safely from their adventure. I can see the twinkle of the fireworks in Madeleine's eyes. I have just tucked her in to bed and it wont be long before all in this house are asleep. I hope to sleep through the coming of the New Year. Maybe it will set a precedent for the year to come - lots and lots of nights of unbroken sleep.
The week before Christmas is often an overly busy time for us. This year, it feels perfect. The weather is magnificent, the jobs list is being done and we are having fun along the way.
Will's Christmas stocking is completed:
The Christmas cake is baked. Every year Belinda Jeffery saves the day with her recipe for a delicious last minute Christmas cake:
The last stitch has been completed on the handmade gifts:
There has been plenty of time for hanging around:
For catching up with friends:
And for jumping on the trampoline until your hair is full of static:
We've danced to Christmas music with Grandma:
And discovered new stories with a favourite Auntie:
For me, this is what Christmas is all about.
Amidst the whirlwind of Christmas preparations this week, I've learned a few things;
Lizzy was lucky enough to receive a brownie recipe as a Christmas gift from her friend Romola this week. We've made them twice already, and I'm sure she wouldn't mind if we shared the recipe with you. Super-simple to make, they're just as a good brownie should be, a little bit chewy in the middle, a little bit crunchy on top, a whole lot chocolatey right the way through, oh-so-moist, and not even a tiny bit greasy.
Pre-heat the oven to 170 C
In a bowl, mix 1 and 1/3 cups of sifted plain flour, 2 and 1/4 cups of sugar, 1 cup of cocoa powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder. Place the dry ingredients in a food processor and add 4 eggs and 250grams of melted butter (it's probably best to cool it so you don't scramble the eggs!) Process till smooth.
Pour the mix into a lined 20cm cake tin and bake for about 40 minutes.
I could suggest that you make them for friends and family as Christmas gifts, but instead I'm going to suggest you make a pan for yourself, brew yourself a pot of strong coffee, put your feet up and enjoy!