Saturday, December 24, 2011

Succumbing to pink

I've a couple of posts that I prepared a month or so back, but didn't want to post until the arrival of the Newbie.  This's the first:

I'm not into pink.  Never have been.  Had a pink/mauve bedroom under sufferance as a girl and have largely avoided it ever since.

However anti-pink I am though, being faced with the prospect of a little girl in the family I've softened my view somewhat.  Prior to the little one's arrival I was shopping and crafting with a view to watering down the inevitable pink, as even I have to concede that I'm not going to be able to get away with dressing a baby girl solely in our usual red/white/blue theme.  So I've branched out a little.  Here's the knitting I finished back in October but couldn't show you until now:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Introducing the Newbie!

The Cyclist and I are proud to announce the birth of our daughter last Friday morning!

Abbie is a placid little thing, that seems to charm all and sundry.  Even the Kinderboy is thrilled, if somewhat surprised to have a sister rather than the brother he assumed was coming his way (we've told him that sisters aren't really girls, just like Mum and Nanna are OK because they're not really girls either!?!).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

'Hamburger' cupcakes for the Schoolboy

Today was all about the Kinderboy - he's 4 today!

Tonight, though, was about the Schoolboy.

I knew that I'd made a rod for my own back when I showed him Jacqui's hamburger cupcakes when she posted about them.  I figured that I was better off making them for his class before the baby was born rather than trying to do it for the last day or two of term (his birthday's on New Years' Eve, so it doesn't really matter when in December we take cakes for the class, but there's no way he'd let me get away with not doing it!).  Here's my finished product (apologies for the quality of the photos and general lack of styling - I was pretty chuffed with myself and happy with the finished product until I saw the photos, I swear they look better in real life!):

Here's what I did:
  • Made a double batch of butter cake mix (each batch made 18 cupcakes, but I could have stretched it further and gotten more authentic-looking 'buns')
  • Greased and floured cupcake pans (to give the outside of the 'buns' a floured look - not sure that this was necessary though)
  • Sprinkled the top with oat bran before putting them in the oven (you could probably use instant oats or wheat bran to get a similar result)
  • Melted white chocolate and mixed it with a little yellow food colouring, then spread the lot on some foil on an oven tray to create cheese.  When it was partially set I roughly cut it into squares with a butter knife to make breaking it easier later
  • Made some bright green (lettuce) and red (sauce) icing
  • After I'd cooled the cakes I sliced them in half
  • I then used a little icing on the bottom of a chocolate ripple biscuit, and 'glued' the biscuit to the bottom part of the cake (for reference, there are 27 biscuits to a pack)
  • Drizzled red icing over the top, making sure that some went over the sides
  • Topped with some of the white chocolate
  • Drizzled green icing over the top, again making sure that some went over the sides, then topped with the top of the cake.
The actual construction wasn't too time consuming, and they're pretty effective.  I 'sampled' a broken one and it was easier to eat than I expected, but pretty sweet even though there weren't any full layers of icing.

My cake recipe is:

120g Margarine
1 1/4 C Castor Sugar
1 ts Bicarb soda
2 1/4 C Self Raising flour (or 2C flour and 1/4C cocoa for chocolate cake)
1 C Boiling water
2 Eggs
1ts Vanilla
  1. Beat butter and sugar
  2. Add flour and bicarb, then eggs, vanilla and water.  Mix well.
  3. Pour into muffin pans
  4. Bake at 180 degrees centigrade for 15 minutes

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Feeding chair [tick]

This afternoon I've completed a long-standing project.  Here it is:

Years ago I salvaged this chair from a rubbish skip down the road:

It didn't look so bad back then - it had a lovely golden glow, but we ended up with too many chairs, it needed repair (the seat started to fall out of the bottom of it), and it ended up in the back yard for a couple of years.  I cut a fresh seat for it from some timber salvaged from another roadside find and kidded myself that placing it under the eaves would protect it until I could get to re-finishing it with exterior varnish.  Well, both the chair and its supplementary seat had seen better days, but I still loved the shape.  In between time I'd also sold off a number of the chairs we had inside, so it was time for the 'captains chair' to be reinvigorated as a feeding chair for the baby's room.

Firstly I reinforced under the original seat:

Then I coated it with several layers of paint (I used interior/exterior primer first, just in case it ends up outside again).

I painted the supplementary seat too.  I left it in two pieces because its such a tight fit that it needs to be in two pieces to fit it into the chair.  I confess to being too lazy to fix the split that had developed on the left though.

I then left it for ages because I didn't know how to proceed next made a cushion for the seat from a combination of a foam cushion insert, a cut up scatter cushion (to fill out the curves), three layers of dacron (to try and make the lot look uniform) and some calico (to hold it all together).  Today, having been inspired by this pin, I made a cushion cover from a men's jumper from the op shop.  The cable knit hides the imperfections in the cushion underneath better than a more traditional cover (I had originally been envisaging something with piped edges).

You can still see the gaps in the timber seat, and I didn't fill all of the holes in the chair itself, but all up I'm pretty happy with the result considering where I started.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Baby blankets [tick]

This week I've been making baby blankets.  Strange for someone who already has two kids I know, but somewhere along the line I did a clean-up of my cupboards and got rid of most of my baby blankets, as well as the bottom half of our change table.

Last week after I realised the general lack of blankets in our house and that I needed to take our own to the hospital (when did they stop supplying them?!?), I took myself off to the op shop looking for a cotton blanket.  What I came back with was a $15 chenille bedspread.  Never mind that I have one of my own in the linen closet - somehow it seems less of a drama to cut up something that used to belong to someone else than it is to cut up something that I vaguely recall being on my bed as a child, no matter how long it is since I've used it.  Well, I've just finished turning the single bed-sized cover into six baby blankets:

Three are lined, three are not;
Three have mitred corners, three do not;
Two have curved bottom edges, four are rectangular;
Two are identical;
One has a fringed edge;
One has dodgy fancy topstitching;

Sorry for the lack of colour - trying to keep gender a secret still.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Introducing Gaspard & Lisa

Its been quite a productive day in our house - this morning I finished the Christmas Stars quilt, and this afternoon the boys and I finished 'Gaspard' and 'Lisa' - their presents for the Newbie.  They're proud of the fact that they made the bears themselves (with varying levels of assistance - the Kinderboy got to choose his fabric and trims, trace around the pattern pieces, supervise sewing and help to stuff; the Schoolboy also got to 'steer' the fabric through the sewing machine whilst I used the presser foot).  We've named them after the characters in the TV show that's currently on ABC kids.

The pattern came from this book:
I borrowed it from the library with a view to making some stuffed birds for the Christmas tree / as party favours for the Kinderboy's birthday next weekend, but found that there were so many projects I wanted to try that I've actually ordered a copy of the book for myself to keep.  The bears and also the birds are quite simple, and readily achievable by primary school aged kids if you're after a craft project.

Oh, and as you can see, the quilt is now dry and the tree up and decorated.  Time to sit down I think!

Christmas stars completed!

This morning I finally finished the 'Christmas Stars' quilt that I started as part of the Chasing Cottons Quilting 101 classes way back in April (two days late according to the Schoolboy, who wanted to put up all the Christmas decorations on Thursday)!  Here it is having been washed and hanging on the line to dry on a dull Melbourne summer's day:

 I contributed a tutorial to the course, and thought that participating would be a good way of using up some Christmas fabric to make a quilt for under our tree (we put it on a coffee table, and I'm always worried about scratches).  Part way along I found out that I was pregnant, and didn't want to finish the quilt until I had some fabric to match the Newbie's Christmas stocking to include.  Well, I've made the stocking now, and got extra fabric so I could use some for the quilt binding and behind the label on the back.

Here's some more shots just for good measure...

The fabric's a mixture of leftovers from our stockings, as well as presents I've made for people over the years.  The predominantly red floral is one that I bought as a remnant 'just in case' we had need of a fifth stocking a few years ago and cut into triangles only to find out a couple of weeks later that I should have kept it for its original purpose.

I quilted in the ditch around the stars and squares (its the first time that I've done this, and my work isn't exactly perfect, but I'm reasonably happy with it), then added four-pointed stars in the centre of the stars and the larger coloured squares.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

This week I...

have no photos!  However, I

           am loving the Schoolboy's hair and the Kinderboy's dimples (just not this morning);
           have been madly quilting the Christmas quilt, and now just have the binding to go can now say it's finished - you can see the finished product over here;
           discovered that most of my baby wraps and blankets have 'disappeared';
           made two light-weight cotton wraps for the Newbie as a result (two weeks to go!);
           gave away some stuff;
           regretted it before the weekend was out;
           pondered picking up a table off the side of the road and didn't;
           discovered that the bottom half of our change table has 'disappeared';
           hope the table is still there this morning and I can get it into the car and home as part of my 'change table replacement program';
           went op shopping, but didn't find anything.  The Kinder boy found a price tag, an ancient rubber band, a wooden bead and a broken piece of shiny plastic, all of which were essential treasures for one 'treasure box' or another.  Turns out that the 'treasure boxes' are all the back seat of the car!
           am going op shopping again today (hatching a plan for new baby blankets)

Photographic evidence to follow.  In the meantime, here's a coat that I found in a magazine I was reading in the early hours of yesterday morning.  It's not available any more according to the Melinda & Narina website, but I love the detail on it.  Maybe one day I'll get to make a version of it.

There's bound to be more interesting fare to look at over here than in my space...


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