Thursday, 13 December 2012

A Crafty Advent

Our advent calendar for this year - a vintage coke crate with boxes made out of newspaper, and (you guessed it) stamped with foam stamps.

Each box has some supplies for a craft activity for Ruby and I to do on that day, as well as a letter stamped on the inside which spells out a message when they are all turned over ("Merry Christmas Ru + Pep-Mae).

Here are some example craft activities - I still haven't done them all but I only have to be a day ahead of myself.  A new stamp (I got the idea to use milk bottle tops from this post):

Some yarn, for making yarn snails:

Some fabric scraps:

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Handprint ornaments - a Tutorial

I wrote this tutorial, for Christmas ornaments using baby's handprints, for a recent edition of the Sands Auckland Central Expressions Magazine.

Our daughter’s fourth anniversary is coming up and I wanted to make something to give to our family when we celebrate her day, so I made some Christmas ornaments that have her handprint on the front and some bright fabric on the back.  I felt a real connection to Mila while I was making these; when I was holding a finished one in my hand I felt like I was holding Mila’s hand again.
Although I’ve called them Christmas ornaments there’s no reason why they couldn’t be on display all year-round!

To make some of your own you will need:
  • Scrap fabric – you will need some white/light coloured fabric for the handprint side of the ornament, as well as brightly coloured scraps for the back. I used calico for the handprint side.
  • Scanned image of handprint (or footprint)
  • Iron-on T-shirt transfer paper (I used Avery T-Shirt Transfer Paper from Warehouse Stationery)
  • Hobby fill
  • Ribbon (I used 15cm lengths for each ornament)
  • Basic sewing supplies (needle, thread, scissors, etc).  You don’t need a sewing machine if you’re happy to hand-sew.

1. Print the handprints onto the T-Shirt Transfer paper, remembering to print as a mirror image.  I was able to get 12 handprints onto one A4 sheet.  Cut around each handprint.

2. Make a pattern by drawing a very rough outline of the print, about 1.5 - 2 cm wider all around, this will give you a 1cm seam allowance and white space around the handprint.  (The size will depend on the size of your baby’s handprint, the pattern I used for Mila’s handprint is included at the end of this tutorial, and includes markers for ribbon placement and seams.)

3. Using the pattern, cut out one piece from the light coloured fabric (with the template face up) and one piece out of brightly coloured fabric (with the template face down).
Iron the handprint onto the light coloured fabric, following the manufacturer’s direction.

4. Fold ribbon in half and pin to the right side of the back piece, with the ends of the ribbon at the centre top, and the ribbon hanging down (see photo below).  Sew ribbon to back piece, sewing as close to the edge as possible (within the 1cm seam allowance).

5. Place back piece on top of front piece, right sides together, and sew around the edge leaving a 1.5cm - 2cm hole (you need to be able to fit your finger through the hole).

6. Turn the ornament right side out by reaching in through the hole and pulling out the ribbon (see photo below).  Press (don’t iron directly onto the print).

7. Fill with hobby fill to the desired thickness and hand-sew the turning hole.  Yay – you’re finished!  The finished size will depend on how big your baby’s handprints are; my ornaments ended up being approximately 5cm x 6cm.

Pattern for Mila’s handprint ornament:

Monday, 3 December 2012


What I hate about Christmas is the mountains of waste - the packaging and wrapping - so this Christmas I'm making a real effort to cut down.  All my wrapping will either be reusable, recyclable or able to be thrown in the compost.  Also, I'm making most of our gifts so there won't be any plastic packaging.  Here some wrapping ideas:

Brown paper bags:
(the bunny is from llevo el invierno)

(stencil is from Stencil 101)

Drawstring bags instead of wrapping paper:

Plain brown paper stamped with some of our homemade stamps:

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Seussy gifts

Some Suessy Christmas gifts for the littlies in our family this year, matching outfits - almost.  I appliqued some Dr Seuss fabric onto Onesies or T-Shirts, each little person gets a book or two that matches the character on their shirt.

Thursday, 29 November 2012


I recently bought Ed Roth's book Stencil 101.  As you can see from the photo, I'm having mixed success so far.  I used a sponge for a couple but they bled too much, the sponge soaks up far too much paint.  Then I tried an itty bitty brush, which looked better but not good enough.  The stencils are not going to last as long as I would like them to.

I'll just have to use the stag as a Christmas decoration ...

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


... almost.

The blackberries are a long way off ripe:

My berry patch has turned into a berry jungle.  I had no idea raspberries could be so invasive, they have totally taken over the strawberry patch, it's now far too crowded and I don't have time to do anything about it.  Some of the plants are not looking too healthy - yellowing on the leaves between the veins like in the blackberry photo above - the raspberry invasion has depleted the soil.

Once we start eating berries we'll pretty much have berries every week til end of summer - we've got strawberries, blueberries (two varieties, one of them is a dual cropper), Waiau raspberries (red ones), ivory raspberries (orange ones, dual croppers), berry delight (a loganberry/boysenberry hybrid) and blackberries.  I love berries, and so does Ruby - she has already eaten the ones in the photos, and any others that seemed ripe enough for her to munch.

Spreading the love

One of my nieces turned 3 recently and I thought I'd spread the stamp-love by making her some stamps.  I also thought she might like making some stamps of her own (or her mum might) so I put together a little 'make-it-yourself' kit with some wooden mounts and craft foam.

Sunday, 25 November 2012


I've got a few constraints on my crafting at the moment: not much time and no spare cash.  I'm trying to be frugal and only make things using craft supplies I already have - luckily for me in the past I haven't needed to be frugal so I have a well stocked craft 'studio'. I have only snippets of time to craft, so can only tackle small projects.  Not only that but Christmas is a few short breaths away. So I've been making some ornaments using up some of my scraps and indulging in my new found love of homemade stamps.

A house ornament using Retromama's Home for the Holidays tutorial:

Friday, 23 November 2012


A friend bought Pepper-Mae a tag-toy which she loves wrestling with so I decided to make one for my youngest nephew and my great niece.  Quite pleased with how they turned out.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Stamps again

So recently I made some stamps and Ruby and I had fun stamping all over the show one rainy afternoon.  When I had a few spare minutes later that week I made this:

I started with some calico, and one of my homemade el cheapo stamps.  I didn't want to waste my fabric paint (Opaque Setacolor) so I painted the stamp with a brush rather than using some sort of inkpad, which would have soaked up a lot more of the paint.  This meant the effect I got was a bit patchy and you can kind of see the brush strokes (most obvious in the photo of it drying, below - they're not as obvious in the finished product).  My husband thought I needed to touch it up, to make it look perfect, but as it's my first attempt I'm not too bothered by it.  It's a gift for a sibling - I doubt they'll send it back with a note saying "touch up the print, darling".

I was going to embroider the bunting rope, but decided against it after doing a test run.

Thursday, 13 September 2012


Ruby's play kitchen is distinctly lacking in play food, so I've started chipping away at pantry essentials - starting with tea and bikkies of course.

For the tea bags I used this tutorial from Lil Blue Boo, except I used pieces of scrap felt instead of the wild rice she uses; for the cookies I just freestyled it.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Rainy day fun

A big shout-out to Heleen for her recent tutorial on making your own stamps.  I've been wanting to try making some simple stamps for a while and I'm glad we had (yet another) wet afternoon to try it out.  Very quick and easy to make - a bit of fun on a rainy afternoon.

My husband made the handles/base out of some scrap pieces of MDF, the 'inkpad' is a scrap piece of felt.  Cheap and easy. 

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Volunteers needed

I am a volunteer for Sands Auckland Central, a charity that supports bereaved parents by providing support and resources, such as running support groups, providing phone and email support, providing hospitals with support packs and special memory booklets, managing a library for our members and producing a quarterly magazine. Sands Auckland Central is funded through grants and donations; it is not a government funded organisation.

One of the things provided to parents who lose their baby in one of the hospitals in the Sands Auckland Central area (Auckland City, North Shore Hospital, Waitakere Hospital) is a moses basket for their baby to lie in.  The moses baskets are theirs to keep.  The baskets have a mattress and are lined; the liners are sewn by volunteers.  We've just had a shipment of baskets arrive and need liners sewn up - so we're looking for volunteers to sew them.  The fabric and ribbons have been cut already, we just need people to sew them.

If you live in the Auckland area and can help, please contact Sands Auckland Central on

When Mila died, we were very grateful for all the support and resources provided by Sands Auckland Central.

Monday, 27 August 2012


Our daughter, Pepper-Mae, arrived safe and sound 10 weeks ago.  Here's a recent picture.  Although I love crafting, I love sleeping more, and so things have been a bit quiet on the crafting front.  I hope to do something crafty soon, in the meantime I'll be looking after my girls and sleeping.

Free to a good home

There's nothing quite like looking out your kitchen window and seeing two lovely chooks free-ranging in your backyard, or going to fetch an egg for breakfast and finding one still warm in the nesting box - doesn't get any fresher than that! 

Regretfully, we have decided to find a new home for our two girls - they have been excellent layers but it's no longer practical for us to have them free-ranging in our backyard.  Details on my (much neglected) Oooby blog.

Who could say no to this face? [tilt your head 90 degrees, I can't work out how to rotate the image even though it's already been saved as rotated on my 'puter]

Saturday, 21 April 2012


I haven't found time for crafting but I've made time for preserving.  I've had some strawberries in the freezer patiently waiting for me to get around to making a batch of strawberry jam.  We only managed to freeze enough for one batch of jam this past summer - two summers ago I made four batches of strawberry jam, and had strawberries for breakfast every day for 3 months (all homegrown, of course).  Oh the good ol' days.

It's labelled 'Mostly Strawberry Jam' because there's a few other berries from the garden thrown in, but it's 95% strawberry.  Next on the jam plan is ...

Feijoas.  Feijoa jam makes for some delicious jam tarts, even my husband (who doesn't like feijoas) will devour feijoa tam tart served with ice-cream (I have mine with unsweetened yoghurt).  Yum, winter fare.

Next year we're hoping for another bumper crop of strawberries, we'll need it because Ruby loves eating them so if we've any hope of getting any into jam we'll need a big crop.  Our strawberry plants have been busily sending out runners and now our back garden is covered in strawberry plants.  The photo below is of half the back garden in September last year, the day I planted these runners from the previous season.  They'd been left far too long and weren't looking overly healthy by the time I planted them but I just knew they'd come away. 
September 2011

The photo below is taken today, all of these plants were free - either runners from this year or runners I potted up from last year.  The left side of the garden is what you see in the photo above.  Some of them aren't looking too healthy but they'll be ok come September.

April 2012

If you're a berry farmer and are shocked at how closely planted they are, the fact they're not in mounds in rows, or any other strawberry growing faux pas I've committed then don't bother letting me know ... this is how we roll at the Ellis Palace. ;-)

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Happy Easter

This morning we held the inaugural Ellis Palace Easter Egg Hunt for Ruby and her cousin.  I made chocolate, most of it (thankfully) has been given away, my husband will eat what remains.  My favourites were the fish, the easter egg baskets, the skull and cross-bones.

It was fun to prepare.  I decorated some plastic pails to use as their baskets, and decorated some polystyrene eggs.  We used a bunny marker to give a clue as to where the eggs were hidden.

They found the final prize in the place we get our real eggs from - a box of handmade chocolates. 

I hope you are all having, or had, a safe and happy Easter. xx
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