Sunday, 30 November 2008


Doodlebug's class held a marketday fundraiser for an Indian orphanage this week. It was the final stage of a project the class has been working on this term based on the parable of the talents. Each child that wished to participate was given a dollar coin. They had to come up with an idea to raise money using their dollar coin as the "start up capital".

Doodlebug wanted to sell muffins, and so with his dollar he purchased the ingredients from me for a tray of muffins. With the proceeds of the muffin sale, he bought materials to make more things to sell at his marketstall. He sold chocolate fudge and pet rocks.

The pet rocks caused him some concern when I raised the idea..... after all they are "quite old" - "They've been around since you were little, Mummy" (gee, thanks....), but he decided to try a few. He wished he'd made more now, they sold like the proverbial hotcakes. Mostly to girls apparently. Who knows....maybe we have started a new trend?

I don't know the total of how much the class raised in total, but Doodlebug made about $30. I think he used his "talent" well.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Thoughtful Friday

"Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all"
~William Faulkner

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The stork has landed....

Molly the guineapig is the proud mother of these seriously cute little piglets that were born today. We won't know their sex for a few weeks yet, but Doodlebug wants to call the black one "Darth Vader".

Sunday, 23 November 2008

we're renovating!

This doll's house came our way. It was built in the 80's and was in need of a little TLC.... so we've ripped out carpets and wallpapers to make it ready for a bit of a facelift.
Somebody put a lot of work into this house and the furniture that came with it - all handmade. But the little girl who once played with it is now "all growed up" and the house was gathering dust. Soon it will be part of Little Possum's world. I'll have to make a little miniature quilt for the bed for the housewarming.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Thanksgiving but no turkey

I have always thought Thanksgiving a great holiday. During my year in Chicago I was able to experience a full on Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, and it was my first tasting of pumpkin pie. I had heard about it, but the idea of a vegetable/dessert combo was puzzling to me.... well, let me tell you that I was a convert after that year!

Food aside, I am attracted to Thanks Giving.. dedicating time to be thankful. Cicero said that gratitude is the parent of all virtues. I get that.... When I am truly grateful for what I have, I am less likely to be selfish, greedy and proud.
"Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy -- because we will always want to have something else or something more" Brother David Steindl-Rast

Thanksgiving shouldn't be an annual event, but a daily event. I'm a nicer person when I am truly grateful, but it's a state of mind, a habit and needs regular exercise.

"To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude." - Albert Schweitzer

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow."
- Melodie Beattie

Today I am grateful for:
A hometeacher who, although he is continents away and hasn't been our hometeacher for 6 years, still prays daily for the wellbeing of my family and who took the time to check up on me because I hadn't written for a long time.

A hometeacher whose love of gardening means I am reminded of him every time I tend to my vegetable garden. He shared of his bounty every season, and each visit he would bring us vegetables or homemade jam. He had bumper crops because he made a deal with God to always give away more than he kept.

A hometeacher who performed the blessing/naming of my youngest two children, and who drove out late in the evening to give a blessing to my sick infant who had been admitted to hospital.

A hometeacher who didn't miss a single month for 2 years, and who always made us feel that he truly loved us and wasn't just there in order to cross us off a list.

A hometeacher who is the kind of person who makes me feel that through knowing him I am getting to know the Saviour because of the way he lives his life.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Kids unplugged.....

I love it when the kids are unplugged from TV and other electronic gadgetry, and just let their imaginations go. Sometimes it gets noisy, most of the time it gets messy, but all of the time they are having such fun! I imagine the synapses in their brains hooking up and firing. Wonderful stuff:

Turtle and Little Possum found my chalks and wanted to try them out on some artwork of their own.

Doodlebug was doing some important construction work, and I was glad to find him taking health and safety guidelines seriously....... all appropriate protective gear used!

This may just look like a bit of a mess, but under these blankets is a maze of tunnels and rooms. Could be a special spaceship, or a secret spybase..... it's a multi purpose design!

Thoughtful Friday

"I have great faith in a seed, convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders."

- Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Handmade Christmas - Garden markers

I bought a bumper pack of the large paddlepop sticks some time ago and I think they will feature in several Christmas presents this year. One idea came to me after Serena and I made an outing to the nursery and came home with seedlings that we divided between us. But each batch of seedlings only had one marker. So I decided to make some.... then I decided to get fancy and paint pictures on each marker.
Once the paint had dried, I covered each marker in 3 layers of varnish to make sure it would be weatherproof
Gift idea no 1 - garden marker and a pack of seeds
Gift idea no 2 - garden marker and a seedling in a pot
Gift idea no 3 - garden markers and some gardening gloves

I wonder who you are

I found your photos in a drawer in farmor Nikoline's house. Unfortunately she and the others of her generation had passed away, so I don't know your names. I can tell a lot from your clothes - your status, roughly what decade the photo was taken, and sometimes also the occasion of the photo.
But, I wonder who you are, what your lives were like, where and how you lived.
I am sure my grandmother knew. I am sure she could look at a photo and remember whether you were a cousin or uncle or even a friend of the family. I wish I could ask her.
I look at my piles of photos. I remember the places, the people and the circumstances... but unless I organise them, one day someone else may find them in a drawer and wonder...

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Handmade Christmas - Dolly peg nativity

The 'Juleverksted' is now open. Remember my very bad sketch from last week? This is what I was thinking of - a nativity of dolly pegs..... Here's what we have done so far:

Materials used: Dolly pegs, paints, pigmapen, chenille sticks for arms and various scraps of fabrics for clothes.

Until I made Mary and the angel Gabriel, the lineup looked a little like a group of hairy hippies. Once they were dressed they looked a little more respectable and in their time... I think.

Once painted I pegged the dolls down on the side of a cardboard box to dry..
I had to provide a moderating hand for fabric selection since LP's colour of choice is mostly pink which would look more "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" than Wise Men in the desert....

We'll make some fairies with the remaining dollypegs so that she can pink up to her little 6yr old heart's content.

(Gabriel needs some hair, doesn't he?.... bald doesn't suit him)

One Crafty Mumma provided me with some inspiration with her popsickle house, and I am thinking about a design for a stable made from paddlepop sticks or tongue depressors (really big paddlepop sticks...) so there's more fun to come.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Monday Munchies... Microwavable Strawberry CupCake

Her Cup Overfloweth inspired me with her chocolate cake in a mug recipe, so I wondered if a similar thing might work to make more of a cupcake. That made me think of jam roly poly and other English puddings of the kind made with suet making your arteries beg for mercy. I made a variation on the choccy cake recipe and came up with this (much more artery friendly than suet puddings but every bit as delicious!):

Strawberry CupCake (quite literally)

2 teacups (Microwavable)
4 Tbsp plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp sugar
1 egg
3 tbsp milk
1 tbsp oil
A small splash of vanilla extract

strawberry conserve
icing sugar

put 2 tsp strawberry conserve in the bottom of each cup

in a small bowl mix dry ingredients, add egg and mix well, add milk and oil, mix well
divide batter evenly between the two teacups

put teacup in microwave, cook on high for 2 minutes (1200W)

I cooked them separately because I was experimenting, for 2 (or more) teacups increase the cooking time... try 3 minutes and see how it goes..... :)

dust with icing sugar
tip out into a bowl.....

Enjoy warm.... maybe a bit of custard for a treat?.....

Quilt giveaway!

You know how I love a good giveaway.... and I especially love this one from the Old Red Barn Co . Just look at these beauties Dana is giving away:
What I love the most about this giveaway is the clever video-entry option! There are some seriously creative and funny entries. Check them out here. I think the fabrics in the first quilt are my favourites. They're from a new range called Sugar Snap by Free Spirit. The second quilt is also so very cheerful. The fabrics are from the Tula Pink range by Moda.

Handmade Christmas

As December and Christmas are approaching, I was having a moment of nostalgia. It's no secret that I still struggle a little to get that Christmas feeling here in the middle of summer. Christmases past with snow, dark nights, stars, candles and fireplaces get in the way.

One tradition of my childhood and youth was the "Juleverksted" - the Christmas Workshop... Christmas decorations and presents would be made along with the Christmas baking (- 7 kinds of cookies/biscuits is the tradition). Gløgg and gingerbread might be consumed while chatting and listening to the music of the season.

Every year my family members were the recipients of many handmade items that I had made with more love than skill. Seeing them on display or in use were my happiest moments.

This year I have decided that I need to share this with my children, and give them the same opportunity as I had. Both because I would like to continue the tradition and give the children a creative outlet, but also because I think that it might just remind us all a little of the need for reduced consumerism.

I read somewhere this week a question posed: What is the difference between a present and a gift? I feel that in making Christmas presents, we will be giving a gift - a gift of time, a gift of love a gift of thoughtfulness and a gift of self.

Along that line I decided that I would make gifts for everyone this year, and I have already started. My sketch/notebook is brimming with ideas, the craftcupboard and my recycling box (the one with items for re-use in various projects) are full and my hands are itching to start.

Getting to grips with the children's wishlist is more of a challenge.....
does anybody have a pattern for a handmade iPod Nano?

Sunday, 16 November 2008

"There were five in the bed...."

.......and the little one said "roll over, roll over".....

Our babies slept in our bed for the first 6 months of their life, and they still occasionally seek us out in the night. A mass invasion like this, with all 3 children climbing into our bed in the night, is rare.
It was a bit of a squish, and as soon as MOTH and I got up in the morning they spread out.

Co-sleeping beyond those first 6 months was not a conscious decision, it just happened that way. But I am happy to provide a middle of the night snuggle. I believe it will come to a natural end as the children mature, and I will probably miss waking up with a little one curled up at the foot of the bed, or sleeping peacefully next to me. (The boys are really quiet and still sleepers, and most of the time I don't even wake up when they crawl into our bed).

I could look at their sleeping faces for ever.....

Thursday, 13 November 2008

the making of a Funky Ball

or...... how to turn this:
into this:
Filling: 1/4 cup rice or sand (and we used small round balloons)
Uses: countless...... stress relief (squishing the ball is very relaxing), juggling, throwing/catching to name but a few..

Tip: when adding the second and the third balloon layer, make sure the opening to the previous layer is covered. This adds strength.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Time to measure up

After a little pondering on the subject, I have come to the conclusion that the public health ads on TV are most effective in this household when the kids have seen them...... Hence Turtle's insistence that I have my pap-test (he still does not know what it means, only that I need to have one every 2 years).

The most recent ad to register on Doodlebug's radar is the Dept of Health's "Measure Up" campaign. Doodlebug was sitting next to me as the ad came on the screen, and he was paying close attention, then there was a little frown on his face..... and then:
D: "Mum.... is your waist bigger than 87 metres?"
me: "Do you mean centimetres, sweetheart?..... and yes, it probably is"
D: "But, Mum...... that means your at increased risk of heart disease!"
(can't argue with facts, now can I?)

Doodlebug has been on my case for a couple of years now.....
we've had

"Mum..... you should do the Special K Challenge!"

followed by:
"Would you like those?" (Jenny Craig meals)

and then (and I particularly like this one!):
"Mum...... do you just eat too much, or do you have a low metabolism?"

So....... I'm hearing you, Doodlebug, and adding your voice to my inner's time for me to measure up (or down, as the case may be).

I am enlisting the help of my lovely friend Jenny the naturopath, and I dread to think what sacrifices I will have to make :) but she promises me that my sweet-tooth will actually disappear. I might mourn the loss...... we have been companions for such a long time, my sweet tooth and I...... :)

(no chocolate was consumed in the production of this post, but the choc muffins in the oven are dangerously close!)

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

a thought on the environment

Rev Richard Sizic on our responsibility and stewardship:

"God is not going to ask us how old we think the Earth is, but He will want to know what we have done with His creation"
(I heard him say this in a radio interview yesterday morning and thought he hit the nail on the head)

Monday, 10 November 2008

engage Smell-O-Vision...

Maybe if your nose is close enough to the screen you will be able to smell this Apple Cinnamon muffin, fresh out of the oven.....

In an effort to make our school canteen a little more healthy, we have cut out 3/4 of the items on the menu and replaced them with freshly made items. The iceblocks and other assorted frozen sweet/coloured water confections went and Funky Fruits arrived - frozen grapes, frozen orange slices and watermelon bites (blended watermelon frozen in plastic shot-glasses) These are extremely popular!
We're not completely cold-hearted, so although we have done away with the commercially made choc chip muffins, we did decide to put home-made apple cinnamon muffins on the menu.

Here's the recipe for these deliciously moist, cinnamony muffins:

1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup natural yoghurt or sour cream
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 large egg
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and grated

(makes 12 muffins)

Mix all ingredients together, spoon into muffin cases , sprinkle a mix of cinnamon and sugar on top and bake at 180 C for 12-14 min.

Enjoy...... mmmmm

Saturday, 8 November 2008

more inner growth and a fabric collage for the wall

Yesterday after school Little Possum and I dived into a pile of scrap fabrics. Armed with scissors, a blank canvas and a pot of ModPodge (marvellous stuff) we set about making a fabric collage.
LP told me what should be in our picture, and I made pencil sketch lines on the canvas - lines for the sun, clouds, hill, tree etc.
We talked about the colours that we'd need for our picture, and we made it a mini art lesson as we discussed the use of darker vs lighter shades of colours to define depth and to add perspective (although we followed our own rules here.....)
Let the fun begin! Fabrics were selected and sorted into piles according to colours and values. Finding floral fabrics on a green background was a bonus - we cut out the flowers to use in our picture.
Then we went to work cutting the fabrics into random shapes before gluing them into place on our picture. We started with the blue of the sky (leaving the spaces for the sun and clouds)
It was a gloriously sticky jigsaw puzzle.
When all the pieces were in place we painted ModPodge all over. I love our new sunny picture which now hangs on the wall.
I wish I had some photos along the way, but our fingers were seriously sticky and I also didn't want to break the flow of creative juices :)

Some time ago Carli, my montage inspiration, made her scrappy tree collage using papers. As I visited her post to make a link here, I re-read it and realised that her collage was also a Friday creation. There must be something about Fridays and glue! Free from homework Friday makes a perfect day for unhibited gluing.... and sticking..... and painting.....

Friday, 7 November 2008

today....... ahh, today was a great day!

"Every human being has the capacity to create - not only the capacity, but the need to create.
To create is part of inner growth"
- Michele Cassou
Welcome to the Twilight Craft Zone!

I thought I'd do some laundry - but I was out of detergent, and decided it could wait another day
I thought I'd tidy the toyroom - but decided the children will turn it upside down as soon as they come home from school. That too can wait another day.
I thought I'd do some other housework-like things - but decided I can do those things while talking to the kids this afternoon.
So, instead I decided to do a few projects I can't do while the kids are around, projects involving stapleguns and rotary-cutters and moments of concentration and solitude (free of interruptions).
/sighing contentedly/ It's been a great day:

Made a cover and penholder for my journal. The penholder idea came from a Flickr demonstration/tutorial.... I'll see if I can find it again to post a link!

Managed to use some fabric stash! Result!

Decided to do some work on my "Butterfly Garden" quilt (by Leanne Beasley)... and did some more cutting and assembling of blocks ready for applique and embroidery as well as a little stitching on this block.

Made the first border for Little Possum's stitcheries.... am still trying to decide whether to just have the gingham border or to add another strip of a darker fabric..... but which one? Have decided on white frames.

Started working on this message board.... but ran out of purple ribbon. To Be Continued..
Made some sketches.... I am not an artist as you can see, but I have some ideas that I wanted to play with..... can you tell what the figures are?

My inner growth is so far ahead of my outer growth that I am going to have a snack before going out to do the canteen stocktake at school. Productive day? I think so.