Tag Archives: gifts

January and a Golden Wedding

Hey – we survived Christmas, New Year and most of the school holidays!  Cause for celebration!  Of course there is one more week of the holidays before the children return to school, so anything can happen (and probably will).    How was your Christmas celebration?  Ours had an interesting and slightly traumatic start when the new dog (Buddy) discovered and ate most of the contents of the Christmas stockings.  Luckily there was only white chocolate in them, but he also found a wrapped gift with chocolate and tried to eat that, along with adding teeth marks to a few other boxes. Between that and Dottie (the small and crazy dog) depositing a poo on the floor just inside the back door that my parents stepped in as they came in to say Merry Christmas it was not an auspicious start!    Buddy was then put outside to reflect on his misdeeds, and took himself for a wander, was found by a passing car and deposited at the local vet clinic, 15 minutes away.   We located him through the powers of Facebook and eventually had our Christmas meal at about 3pm.   In between all the dog drama we shared some lovely family time, and enjoyed watching as each one of us opened our presents.   My efforts in making presents was worth it – the children all loved their new pyjamas, my eldest chick is extremely excited by her new quilt, and my mother liked the table runner that I embroidered for her. I was also sent a photo of my very excited niece wearing the pjs that I had made her, so they were also a success!

I stitched this traditional sashiko pattern onto a table runner as a gift for my mother.   I will share my tips on how to do this soon.

The big focus for us throughout the holiday period was actually an event after New Year.   On 10 January my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.   We couldn’t let such an occasion pass unmarked, so we held a party and invited family and friends.    The best thing about having family who live so far away from us (or is it that we live so far away from them?) is that when they come to visit they don’t just come for a couple of hours – they come for a few days so we get to spend time with them doing ‘normal’ things!    This was definitely the case on this occasion.  My father has 9 siblings and 6 of them were able to attend.  My mother’s siblings all sent their best wishes as did those of my father’s siblings who couldn’t join us.  Two sets of aunt and uncles stayed with us for a few days, along with my sister and niece and my brother.   My brother’s attendance was a surprise for my parents – and it was a true surprise with lots of joy!   Time spent talking to family over breakfast or while working in the kitchen was a real treat and made the whole week very special.

Photos of their wedding day, a delicious croquembouche cake and a blessing tree.   (And just quietly – how good does the dresser that I renovated last year look?)

For the party itself my aunts helped with cooking, my brother and uncle tackled the grass cutting, everyone chipped in to tidy the garden, and one of my uncles braved Costco with me for shopping!   My sister helped with all the decorations, which were lovely, and my sister and brother stepped in to keep the kitchen running and food appearing throughout the evening.  It really was a lovely party – kids running around in the garden, adults catching up with old friends and new, and some great family traditions played out, including the family tradition of singing a song written about the couple (in this case to the tune of ‘A bicycle built for two’), signs being held up during the speeches to encourage the audience to clap, cheer or hiss, and lovely memories shared of a wonderful life together.

I am so very fortunate to have parents who have been married for this long.  They are the first to admit that it hasn’t always been easy, and that they have had to work to maintain their relationship, but their commitment to each other is tangible and their love for each other continues to keep them strong, and it really does serve to show that great relationships exist.

6 Tips for celebrating a Golden Wedding Anniversary

After it was all over I realised that we had learnt some great tips to share with our friends who might also be hosting a party for their parents in a similar way, so I put together a few of them to share with you all.   They are a bit Australian centric, but the ideas can be used in other countries even if the names change!

My parents renewed their marriage vows, 50 years after the original vows, in a mass said at home. It was emotional, happy and a true celebration.

1. The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has a protocol section that will arrange for the Prime Minister to send a letter to the couple to commemorate the occasion.   (I found this out after the fact!)


2. If you are Catholic you can arrange to have a papal blessing certificate sent to them to commemorate the occasion by speaking to the admin staff at your local church office.  (The certificate is, as you can imagine, quite ornate!)


3. To create poster sized reprints of the original wedding photos I scanned them onto a USB stick then went to Officeworks and had them print the black and white photos on plain paper at A2 size.  Cost per print?  $4.     A colour photo on thicker paper but still at A2 size was $10.    I used Ikea frames that I already owned to hang them and they looked great!


4. We had a croquembouche cake as the ‘wedding cake’.   These delightful piles of choux pasty filled with custard and drizzled with caramel toffee and spun sugar with gold leaf were made by a fantastic pastry chef here in Canberra.  Natalie van den Bosch of the soon-to-open patisserie Le Bon Melange created this beautiful dessert that had everyone lining up for seconds!   (The fact that she had been part of a youth group that my parents ran many years ago in another part of the country was a nice personal twist!)


5. My sister created a blessing tree.   This was a ‘tree’ of gold twigs with tiny lights that she arranged in a vase, with tags for the guests to write their blessings for the couple.   It was lovely to read the messages after the party.


6. I designed the invitations to the party, and to the house mass that was held on the day of their anniversary, using www.canva.com.   This awesome site allows you to design for free, or a for a small charge, using elements that graphic designers use.  The invitations looked professional (if I do say so myself!)

I hope that the holiday season has been kind to you.  I have been using the time to do some painting – walls, furniture etc, so stand by for some further updates.  (Although the photo from the anniversary party does show a newly painted wall, so that can count as a sneak preview!)

 

Friday Finds – a list of tutorials for DIY Valentine gifts

 

While there are many who declare that Valentine’s Day is ‘too commercial’ , I have a soft spot for the day.  Not because I receive lots of hearts and flowers and cards.  In fact quite the opposite.  It is my eldest chick’s birthday and her father declared that this meant that we couldn’t possibly celebrate Valentine’s Day as it would detract from her special day (!!)   With her birthday as the focus,  I have a range of different heart shaped cake tins collected at garage sales etc and she loves her heart shaped cake each year.   So it is a special day for me.  However I also like the concept that there is a day that allows people who love each other to be reminded that saying it to the person they love, or treating the person they love to a present, is a good thing.   Not everyone has a relationship that involves daily gestures of love and romance, so a bit of an annual prompt can’t be a bad thing!

Before getting too far into a debate that I don’t want to have, instead I bring you a small collection of ideas for crafts that you can do to celebrate Valentine’s Day with something you have made with love.  The great thing about many of these tutorials is that they can also be used for other celebrations or occasions by simply changing the materials, or the colours.

The first is a paper garland of hearts.  It was originally made as a fourth of July garland but could really be used for any celebration – and using colours that you and your special someone love would make it a great Valentine’s Day celebration.

Lovas World – DIY Paper Heart Garland

Lova's World: DIY Paper Heart Garland

The next is a delightful idea to make your own dice, and to use hearts instead of ‘dots’.  The tutorial, on the website Design Sponge also has ideas on the puns you can use when presenting the dice as a present!

Design Sponge – DIY Project Heart Dice

 

I discovered these gorgeous little Amurigami crochet hearts on the site RoxyCraft – their tag line is ‘patterns that don’t suck’.  I love it!  The potential to make these for all sorts of occasions is huge – but as a Valentine’s Day crochet pattern I think they are a winner!

RoxyCraft – Crochet Hearts

For some simple ideas, beautifully executed, take a look at the site Sew Jane Work where Holly has a tutorial for making a tote and a pencil box decorated with hearts.

See Jane Work – DIY Valentines Day Projects

Vanessa at V and Co has a beautiful collection of tutorials on her site, but it was this gorgeous ruffled heart pillow that caught my eye – a combination of reverse appliqué and ruffles to make a beautiful pillow.  (And of course, you could adapt it to other occasions by using different shapes for the cut out!)

V and Co – Gathered Heart Pillow

(While you are there have a look at her patterns – her heart quilt is beautiful!)

A group of bloggers created a linkup party last year with 14 days of love and on day 4 JoJo and Eloise provided a tutorial for making a simple heart shaped pouch.  A lovely simple gift to make, with many uses, including as a way of presenting another gift!  From this tutorial you can click through to the other Valentine themed ideas from that collection.

DIY Heart Felt Pouch

14daysofcraftinglove

A different use of felt results in these gorgeous Valentine’s envelopes from Shop Bonne Nouvelle.

Once again I can imagine different uses throughout the year for both little people and big!

And then combining the two ideas into one great gift DesignSponge has this tutorial for a stuffed heart with an outside pocket.

Sewing Stuffed Hearts

Felt hearts with a different twist are found in the tutorial from Food ‘n’ Femininity on how to make heart coasters.

These Lego hearts are perfect for the geek-love in your life.

Lego Necklace

Free printables

Beautiful free printables to create your own Valentine’s cards or gifts can be found at the gorgeous blog Design is Yay where Wita has made some shabby chic money envelopes that cover both Chinese New Year (today!!) and Valentines Day.

Others include:

Camille Styles – DIY Printable Valentines

Pizzazzerie – Freebie Valentines Day DIY Gifts

Twig and Thistle – Updated DIY Valentine Treat Bags

BHG – Valentines Day Coupons 

More………..

As usual I am not the first blogger to collect ideas on DIY Valentine’s gifts, so do have a look at these links if you haven’t found your inspiration in this list.

Soap Deli News – 80 handmade Valentines Day Gifts you can craft

the 36th Avenue – Handmade Valentine Crafts and Ideas

My delicious ambiguity – 10 of my favorite Valentines Day Gifts

For even more Valentine ideas gathered in one spot have a look at my Pinterest board – a little bird made me’s Valentine’s Day Pinterest Board

The birthday decisions

The middle chick’s birthday has arrived, which means that I can report on the gift making and decisions! Of course the most important thing to report is that the chicks are home again, safe in the nest. It is delightful to have them back, but very noisy!! I was woken several times in the night by different ones at different times, and then woken very early yesterday morning by the birthday girl who wanted to remind me that we needed to ring her cousin, who she shares a birthday with. I mumbled something suitable (which, I regret to say, was not “Happy Birthday darling”) and went back to sleep. However by 7.30 they had all been woken and presents were presented and admired and enjoyed. (The return to ‘normal hours’ tomorrow is going to be a shock for their mother!)

After my list making last week I decided to make her a kindle cover,

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and to make her a space of her own. She is currently occupying the top bunk, so a curtain,

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a shelf for her treasures and a fabric bucket (that can be hung) to assist in the collation of those treasures (well – to attempt to keep things tidy really),

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and a pin board (not covered in fabric I regret to say) were the contributions to her own space. She is thrilled! Unfortunately the kindle cover is too small (that will teach me to rely on measurements online instead of measuring the device before she left!!) but I have my technique sorted so will make another one with no problem, and she assures me that she will find things to use it for!

Other gifts she received that had the big tick of approval, that might prove useful ideas for anyone else looking for 9 year old girl present suggestions included a gift voucher to do a cooking class, tapestry and cross-stitch kits, and a Science kit – equipped to grow micro-organisms, isolate DNA, and various other experiments. Oh – and her father bought her a camping chair of her own – a Moon chair – that she is delighted with!

Because her father was in town for one more day he was able to take her, the other chicks, and her best friend, bowling for the afternoon, and then in the evening we all went out for dinner, with another family who are great friends of ours, for Teppenyaki – the birthday girl’s request. We very rarely go out for dinner because once we factor in the dietary restrictions, the boy’s excess energy, my usual state of exhaustion, and the expense, it isn’t worth the effort. However it was such a successful outing that we will do it again! The entertainment factor of Teppenyaki helped, with speedy quick chopping, flames, food catching, and general hilarity.

teppenyaki teppenyaki2

Their father stayed the night with us before flying out early this morning.  I had one of those delightful reminders about the advantages of not being married to him anymore when his snoring from the boy’s room, where he was sleeping on the trundle (the boy was soooo excited) kept me awake!!  Ah well, you have to laugh!

I can also report that my birthday, after my initial ambivalence, was just delightful! I ended up having impromptu wine with a dear friend at the pub down the road and as the weather was perfect we were able to sit outside and enjoy it. Then dinner out was with another beautiful friend, at a very trendy restaurant called Eighty Six where we let the waiter pick the food for us, with the instruction that we needed room for dessert! He did a superb job and we had a smoked ocean trout salad with poached egg, followed by a lamb ragout with gnocchi. That left room for my dessert of crème brulee with drunken prunes and pistachio biscotti, and hers of lemon curd with elderberry jelly, yoghurt gel and something else that I can’t remember!! Combine that with some wine, a hard lemonade (in other words lemonade with booze in it) and I was in seventh heaven! Didn’t take any photos (was being cool after all) and had a lovely time enumerating the good things about our advanced ages. We both decided that our decidedly reduced care factors were one of the best things about getting older!

Of course what would one of my random blog posts be without an update on my ‘to-do’ list? I can report that the boy’s room was returned to a sensible state, including some sorting of the toy boxes. His wardrobe was cleaned out and changed over for summer. The presents for the middle chick were completed (without me going overboard for once!). The other things? Not yet. But the weekend is not finished yet!

I hope that your weekend is going well.  The weather here is delightful – hopefully you have the same!

Friday finds – a list of DIY gift ideas for a 9 year old girl with links to tutorials

Oh dear. The middle chick turns 9 next week and I am drawing a blank about what to make for her (let alone buy for her!) Last year I made her bunting with her name on it, and a creativity suitcase. This year? I am just not sure! So I decided to prepare a list of the links I find and share them with you in an effort to find inspiration for myself! Let’s hope it works!

Hair accessories

These days my nearly 9 year old is very fashion conscious.  She puts together her own outfits with more style than many adults – layering colours, textures and different fabrics to create her own ‘look’.  I think that some hair accessories to assist in her styling wouldn’t be out of order!

Interchangable ruffle headband – Funky Polka Dot Giraffe

Hair accessories – Life and Grace

Hair Accessories – Style My Party

IP-HAIR-ACCESSORIES

Rolled Ribbon Rosette Hair Accessory – Mom Advice

Home décor

Part of developing her own style means that my nearly-nine year old is a ‘tween’.  So it is time to update the bedroom décor and let her have her own space to express herself.  Some of these accessories might just do it!

Alphabet cushion – Hobbycraft

Fabric covered magnetic board – Riley Blake Designs

Fabric buckets for storing ‘things’ might also be useful as part of a ‘makeover’ – see the list I prepared earlier! Friday Finds – a list of 23 tutorials for fabric baskets and buckets

Fabric Covered Pin Board – The 36th Avenue

Reading Nook – Club Chica Circle

Clothing

Hmmmm….. perhaps making her some things that fit her ‘style’ might work!  With summer coming on she definitely needs a new hat – and is very picky about what she will and won’t wear.  Perhaps if I make one with funky fabric that might work!

Reversible Bucket Hat – Oliver and S

The other thing about summer is that she wants to wear shorts – all the time.  So perhaps I need to make some of these for her (adjusted to her size of course!)

25 DIY shorts to try – Cameo Blog

Or a skirt?

25 Girls Skirts Tutorials – Every Little Day

Technology accessories

Like so many young people my tween has an embarrassment of electronic gadgets.  A cover to assist in protecting them would be just the ticket (and in fact now that I remember, something that she has been asking for!  Yes, yes – insert the embarrassed face of a forgetful mother here!)
Kindle Cover – Diary of a Young Teacher

Padded Gadget cover – Riley Blake Designs

Ipad Cover with wrap around Pocket – Sewn Up by Teresa Down

Under

Editted to remove links to the WhipUp.net site which appears to have been closed.

Kindle Keeper – Polka Dot Chair

And to assist with the earphones that I keep finding tangled in a heap!

Earbud Pouch – Erin Erickson

A list of iPad and Kindle cover tutorials – TipNut

Things of her own

My middle chick loves to have her ‘own’ things now rather than sharing in the communal household things.  She also loves to ‘borrow’ her mother’s heat pack for all sorts of imagined ills….. so maybe she needs her own!

 Heat Pack – Fellow Fellow

She does have a large amount of pencil cases, but when you are the artist-in-residence you can’t have too many!

Pencil roll – You Go Girl

Notebook Cover – Sew Up by Teresa DownUnder

Edited to remove links to the site WhipUp.net which has been closed.

 

The good news is that after spending the last hour or so preparing this list, I DO know what I am planning to make for my middle chick!  Now to see if I can pull it off before she returns from her holiday!  I hope that the list helped you a bit too!

Friday Finds – A list of 30+ free tutorials and patterns for wallets and pouches

Staying with the theme of the last few weeks Friday ‘lists’ today I bring you a collection of free tutorials and patterns for wallets, pouches, clutches and purses. With the wonders of the English language what is considered a ‘purse’ in some countries is a ‘wallet’ in others, and a ‘tote’ in others. No wonder some non-English speakers struggle to learn to speak English fluently – many English-as-a-first-language speakers have the same trouble!

I love little purses/pouches/wallets. First of all they are a great way to show off scraps of fabric from your stash that you just can’t bear to part with, and secondly they are fantastic at helping to keep you organised. Since I started sewing bags my handbag wardrobe has grown dramatically – and in changing bags I often forget to move some important thing from one bag to the next (you know – lipstick, my work pass, migraine medication, cash…..). After making some zip-pouches for friends and custom orders recently it has occurred to me that I should actually make some for myself to hold these bits and pieces in and then changing bags will be as simple as taking the pouches out and putting them in the next bag. Of course the hard part will be working out which fabric to use…..because I have so many pieces I love!   Sigh – as I often say, if these are the worst first world problems we are faced with, our lives continue to be amazing!

The beauty of these patterns is that by changing fabric and changing sizes you can make pouches for children, teens, women, men, to be used for all sorts of purposes.  Great for whipping up last minute gifts!

So – here is a collection of patterns and tutorials provided by generous bloggers to inspire you and me!  I have organised them into zipped, wallets, and ‘other’ (yes – I am a genius).  Many of them are similar, but as always, each sewist brings their own tips and tricks to even simple tasks, so I hope you can find one that resonates with your style!

Zipped

Nesting Zip Bags

Front Zip Pouch in Four Sizes – Sew Mama Sew

Simple Zip Pouch for Beginners – Sew Delicious

HPIM5465

Dumplings – Michelle Patterns

Open wide Zippered Pouch Tutorial – Noodlehead

Flat Zip Pouch Tutorial – Listen to the Birds Sing

Sketchy Pleat Clutch – Charm Stitch

Embellished Pouch Tutorial – Polka Dot Chair

How to Draft a Pattern and Make a Zippered Purse with a Flat Bottom – Sew Together

Basic Zipper Pouch – See Kate Sew

Triple Zip Pouch – A Quilter’s Table

Rosy Wedge Bag – Made During Quiet Time

thebellaclutch

The Bella Clutch – Clover and Violet

34 Final-Pouch-Open

Zippy Pouch – with a zipped inner pocket – Sew Happy Geek

Pieced Polka Dot Pouch – All People Quilt

How to Make a Zip Pouch without Dented Corners – Michelle Patterns

Lil Cutie Pouches – Noodlehead

Half Circle Zippered Pouch – Lula Louise

Lined Zippered Pouch – Flossie Tea Cakes

Oil Cloth Zip Pouch – Zaaberry

Zippered Pouch (using Laminated Cotton) – How To Sew.Com – Better Homes and Garden

Zips Pouch – Zipit Zippers

Zippered Heart Coin Purse – A Creative Princess

Zippered Ear-Bud Pouch – Erin Erickson

Pleated Zipper Pouch – Melly Sews

Wallets

DIY fabric wallet 6 card slots, coin pocket, bill slot, receipt slot

The Perfect Wallet – Color Me Domestic

Bi-Fold Wallet – Modest Maven

step30

Wallet Tutorial – That*Darn*Cat

Accordion Wallet – Little Quack’s Craft

Organiser Wallet -LBG Studio

“Other” – Clutches and purses!

LSC frame pouch

Flexi Frame Pouch – Where the Orchids Grow

Zip Pouch Tutorial – Creating my Way to Success – This one is a bit different – it has pockets inside and can be used as a first aid kit, a sewing kit, etc.

Black and white mini open

Mini-Wallet Tutorial – 7Layer  Studio

Mini-Clutch Tutorial – Our Busy Little Bunch

And finally – if that list doesn’t suit your needs, the delightful website Tip Nut has a list of 30+ makeup bags and rolls, and most of the makeup bags are perfect for use as wallets, pouches or clutches.

All Wrapped Up has yet another list of clutches, purses and wallets (about 24)- most different from my list and from Tip Nut’s list.

A huge variety of free patterns and tutorials to provide us with so many ideas!  I think I need to start buying zips in bulk!

Happy creating!

Lessons learnt

I am laughing at myself right now. In my last post I was apologising a bit for sewing things that weren’t on my February “To Do” list – but in fact everything that I sewed WAS on the list! I was looking at the list written on a scrap of paper at home, and not the one I publicly shared! So in fact I am doing really well at addressing my list right now!!

I also answered my own question of ‘to-crochet-or-not-to-crochet’ on the pillowcases I made – if I had to ask, then the answer was ‘no’. My wise friend Jo pointed out that there is something about bunting and crochet that doesn’t work – neither of us know why but we both agree on that point! So I listed them in my shop today, after taking photos in the lovely sun – and a friend snapped them up straight away! So I might need to make some more.

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Finally I am laughing at myself for forgetting the very simple rule – people read blogs. So some of my staff knew why I was at work having a chat, before I had told them in person, and one of the lovely teachers at my children’s school, who also loves fabric, was very tempted to call me after I announced that I should get stuff done, if only the school didn’t ring….. Good lessons to learn with no damage done and much laughter.

I have been sitting and admiring my delicious stash of fabric a bit, and was inspired to make this up during the week. Again, it has been snapped up, so I will make more using this lovely blue paisley.

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As I gear up to return to the office on Monday I am trying very hard to maintain my carefully won balance and not feel that I have to frantically sew to get things done before Monday – and it is working. Last night I had a lovely evening with a friend, some great Asian takeaway, and decadent ice-cream. When the power went out due to a storm we just turned on a torch and kept giggling and sharing. No sewing to be seen!

I had a list of things to be done this weekend – including three presents for my children to give to their friends at parties they are attending. In my mind I was planning to sew each gift, but this morning I sensibly went shopping and bought small gifts. The artist in residence was attending her best friend’s birthday party and I was disappointed that I hadn’t been able to make something for this little person who has a special place in our life – but we fixed that when we realised that a bird softie that my daughter had been making would make a perfect gift to accompany the purchased gift. So a very special handmade gift was delivered instead.

Having found some time to attend to other things (like housework) I then sat down and whipped up two simple pencil rolls (making up my own pattern) for the party that the boy is attending tomorrow (for two classmates), to accompany the small gifts I bought. I am quite happy with them and think that I will make some more for the shop.

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I also unpicked and altered a gift for my friend who has a special birthday tomorrow – and am now much happier with it. Taking time to do it right instead of just ‘okay’ feels good.

The return to work is a little daunting because, since my last post, it has been confirmed that I will take on a new role, beginning on Monday. I have also discussed my wish to work different hours, subject to finalising my before-school care arrangements, and they are supported. So the idea of a new position, which involves leading a service delivery area (something I haven’t done before) is exciting but also challenging. The idea of starting work early each day and then finishing at 3 in order to collect the children from school in person is wonderful, but I am apprehensive about finding the balance at work. All in all, I am sure that once I am there and have moved into my new office and remembered all my passwords etc I will be fine – but the anticipation of new things does have me thinking about work a bit more than normal!

Of course while I was in the office I managed to talk to one of my colleagues about a bag that she wanted…..and then came home and made it. Although it fits the description of what she asked for I am not happy with it yet, so think that it might be the next thing to be unpicked and re-shaped – the flap isn’t sitting quite where I want it to and the bag is a bit deeper than I think it should be. Back to the drawing board!

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Finally, an amusing sight while the kids and I stopped to find a geocache on our way home this evening. To find it we had to pass an administration office, and in the window, on the side of a tissue box, was this sticker, that the children loved!

geocaching

I am not sure if you can read the sticker, but apart from making it clear that this is a geocaching friendly environment, the small print says “Where else can you use billion dollar satellites to find plastic containers in the bush?”

I hope that any lessons that you have learnt this week are positive!
(My other lesson is to post more regularly so that my posts aren’t this long!!)