Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Starflower Bee Block for Helen

This is one of two Bee blocks I made for the Rainbow Bee that began this month. Helen was the Queen Bee and she chose this stunning Starflower Block in rainbow colours. Ellison Lane Quilts provided the original tutorial, with a minor tweak as requested by Helen to give the block a slightly more scrappy look. I think this is a fabulous Bee block and am tempted to select it for myself if I have the opportunity to participate in another Bee (will get through this one first - it does last a year!). The block itself is absolutely stunning. As much as I enjoyed making these blocks - there is an immense amount of satisfaction seeing all those points line up - I was glad that I was only making two! I don't think I would throw myself into making an entire quilt top with these blocks. Having other quilters make them for me is very appealing!

I am working on a tutorial for the time when I am Queen Bee and will post it as soon as it is done (though I need to get a move on as it is my turn in December!).

Block from Lori

This is the stunning log cabin block I received from Lori this month. Lori lives in the US and she also included a few other treasures; two lovely pieces of Christmas fabric and a letter 'M for Masson' ornament! The fabric Lori has used in the log cabin is beautiful. I really love the traditional Christmas colours and designs, as Christmas for me is not just a fun, family time of the year, but one of joyous yet reverent celebration.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Felt Faces For Busy Bags

There are quite a few blogs out there in blogland that I enjoy. They provide all kinds of inspiration and ideas. One of these is by Hannah from Paint on the Ceiling. Hannah and Bek at Just For Daisy recently hosted a 'Busy Bag Swap'. Hannah's blog describes a busy bag as: "a small zip lock bag (or similar) containing an activity that can be done independently or with minimal assistance by your toddler! Basically it's a simple yet engaging activity to keep them busy while you're busy! Great for the car, shops, waiting room or while cooking dinner!".

Each participant chooses an activity and then makes 11 busy bags. I chose to make 'Felt Faces' (here is probably a good spot to say that I didn't want to go near a pair of scissors or felt for weeks after all that cutting!). I kept one busy bag for myself and then sent the other 10 off to Hannah and Bek to sort and distribute to everyone. This week I expect to receive 10 other different busy bag activities!

One of the many felt face configurations!
Felt Faces or Funny Faces as it is referred to by some is not my own idea. Pinterest and a Google search will come up with a vast array of commercial and homemade versions. I took the idea and made up my own components. The face just fits on an A4 piece of paper. My favourite pieces are the eyes - three different coloured pieces of felt sewn together (I wasn't comfortable just gluing them together if they were going anywhere near toddlers!).

Admittedly, I made myself (and another for a dear friend!) an extended  version of the busy bag that I sent off. Ours has some extra felt face pieces such as glasses and pink hair!

While this activity is ideally aimed at younger children, even Zoe (8yrs) has enjoyed making all kinds of kooky faces.

This would make a fantastic gift for a family with little ones. And the bonus?...very inexpensive!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Log Cabin

It's a bit of a wonky photo, however the block itself is straight!!

 This is my Christmas Log Cabin Block that is currently on its way to Lori in the US. We swapped logs this month, as we found that we both wanted log cabin blocks in traditional Christmas colours!

Polaroid Block Swap

It doesn't seem all that long ago that I was taking photos with a non digital camera. Simply because digital cameras weren't around yet (and I'm not that old! Unless you ask my children!!). While I didn't ever own a polaroid camera I remember watching others with a keen interest as they took a photo and then flapped the polaroid around in the air while it developed.

 When I heard that Kristy at Quiet Play was hosting a Polaroid Block Swap I jumped at the chance to participate.

The blocks are designed to look like a polaroid photo, with 2.5" squares fussy cut to show a picture or interesting print.

 1" plain white borders are added to the sides and top, with a 1.5" border added to the bottom.

I kept this one for myself - a 'black' polaroid representative of when things didn't quite go right!

These are a few of the blocks I have sent to Kristy. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes back in November!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Toilet Roll Lion

Toilet roll lion and tree (every lion needs a shady tree to laze under!).
With a family of six there are a number of grocery items that we buy often and in considerable quantities. Among these are bread, milk, cereal and...toilet rolls! I really like the feeling that I get when I recycle items that could very easily be tossed in the bin. Here is one of our most recent uses for toilet rolls.
The back of the tree - part of a cereal box.
I think the tree looks just as good when it shows part of our recycled cereal box! The top of the tree sits in a slot cut in the top of the toilet roll. The lion's face is cut out of paper, embellished with black permanent marker and glued on.

Peanut Monkeys

Peanut Monkeys in a Tree!
While I was out and about with my four kiddliwinks we came across a bag of peanuts in their shell. While my children have had peanut products many times before, the youngest three had never tried unshelled peanuts. We bought a bag of peanuts, brought them home and cracked open their shells. It was quickly discovered that cracking open peanut shells was fun, but actually eating the peanut was not something the children were keen on! The bag of peanuts was put in the cupboard and left for a few weeks. Each time I opened the cupboard where the bag of peanuts was sitting I thought about throwing them out (after all, nobody was going to eat them), but couldn't bring myself to actually do it. After some feeble attempts to pass them on to other families I decided that we would use the peanuts for something else.

So, the peanuts were repurposed! Here they are as monkeys. Black rick rack made great arms and tails (for some reason we weren't doing legs that day!), while black artline texta provided everything needed for a face.
Red, yellow and green coloured paper was used for the tree and background. A glue stick was able to stick the torn tree strips on, however it was decided that the monkeys wouldn't have a hope of staying on with just glue stick glue. I was unwilling to go to the next level of crafting by getting out some stronger (read messier) glue, so a compromise was found and the monkeys were stuck on using Blu Tack. So everyone's happy!

Paper Pieced House

The finished block - complete with a pet and vegetable garden (well, peas anyway!).
My partner for this month's Quilt Block Swap requested a house block in bright colours. I was excited by this and decided that a paper pieced block would be perfect.
Drafting the pattern.
After perusing pinterest and numerous Google search results I decided to draft my own, though it was definitely inspired by Kelly Simbirdi's Row Houses Quilt. I changed the dimensions to make it into a 12" block and added a little friend peeking through the window.
Colouring in the various parts so as not to get confused when sewing!
In the past I have used regular printer paper for paper pieced blocks, but as this was a larger size I decided to try butcher's paper. As it is a lot thinner than printer paper it tore away very easily. The only negative was needing to be particularly careful when sewing straight on to the paper, as it did have a tendency to move around a little or tear during the sewing process.
The family pet gazing out the window.
Fussy cutting the little dog's face was one of the fiddliest parts of the pattern. I chose a floral pattern for the window boxes (for obvious reasons!) and white for the background to ensure that the bright pink and green stood out as much as possible. I am pleased with the end result!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

The Wide Mouthed Frog

 My children love to read books and we are fortunate to have a great variety of picture books. Some of these are 'special' books, meaning they are not kept on the regular bookshelf for my children to help themselves. This is usually because they are a little out of the ordinary, such as this family favourite. It is a pop up version of The Wide-Mouthed Frog.
The wide mouthed frog

The wide mouthed frog meets a furry brown mouse.
The pop ups in this book are fantastic (though you probably can't tell that by my dismal photos - I really did try my best!). They will fascinate and delight every young reader over and over again. It is because the pop ups are so fantastic that this book would not survive on our regular bookshelf - little hands would not be able to resist touching them with great enthusiasm!

Since we love the book so much we decided to make our own wide mouthed frog! Here is how we did it:

 We painted a paper plate with green paint (or you could glue green scrunched up tissue paper all over it - whatever is on hand!) and cut out shapes from paper; green legs, green eyes, a red tongue and white eyeballs. We then used a black marker to draw pupils on the white eyeballs. You will also need a glue stick (no mess!).
                                   Fold your paper plate in half.

                                   Glue the tongue to the inside.
 Glue the front legs to the bottom (green underside) of the paper plate body, either side of the tongue.
                          Fold the longer back legs as shown.
           Glue the back legs to the bottom (green underside) of the paper plate body.
Glue the eyeballs on to the eyes.
 Glue the eyes on to the top of the paper plate body, folding them back once they are in place so that they stand up.
Roll the end of the tongue around a pencil to make it curly.
 Ta da! A wide mouthed frog!

 Let's see how many flies these wide mouthed frogs can catch...

An Abundance Of Lemons

I am fortunate to have two lemon trees that provide us with an abundant amount of lemons nearly all year round. Even after sharing our lemons with friends, family and neighbours, we still have a lot of lemons! Luckily, we like all things lemony and have a variety of lemon recipes to use up all our
lemons. These include lemon sponge cake, lemon meringue pie, lemon slice, lemon delicious pudding, lemon biscuits and lemon curd. I also freeze lemon juice in 1 cup amounts in zip lock bags. Grated lemon zest also freezes well. Unfortunately, most recipes that need lemons only use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of lemon juice in total. One of our lemon trees produces lemons that are so big and full of juice that one lemon alone can yield 1 cup of juice! So, to ensure that our lemons are all used up and not wasted (and because it is so delicious!) we make homemade lemonade.
We don't have a strict recipe that we follow (I say 'we', as this is something that my children love to make on their own) - simply combine lemon juice, caster sugar (it dissolves more easily than regular sugar) and water in a jug. Give it a big stir to dissolve the sugar and you're done! Roughly speaking, in a 2litre jug I tend to use 250ml - 300ml of lemon juice and then fill up with water. Sugar is added according to taste.

 Homemade lemonade on ice in a glass is deliciously refreshing on a hot day (and is even more delicious when you drink it through a straw with a slice of lemon on the side!).

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