Sunday, February 28, 2010

Birthday Preparations

I am attending a 3 Year Old's Birthday party today. I have finished the project that I designed as a gift for her. I can't show you anymore at this stage because the pattern is under wraps for a few weeks - I have been sworn to secrecy !!! I wonder what it is that I was asked to make for her????? I wonder if you can guess?

All little people's parties need party food so I have decided to make some "Frugal" Marshmallow Cones to take with me. Have you made them before? Kids just love them. You will need :-

1 1/2 Cups White Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Water
6 Teaspoons Gelatine
Dash of Lemon Juice
Food Colouring
100's & 1000's
Ice Cream Cones

Makes Approximately 12

Place the Water, Sugar & Gelatine in a pot and bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes - Be careful it doesn't boil over.

Put it into a mixing dish and allow it to cool slightly.

Then beat until stiff - This takes a litle while. Put in a few drops of food colouring whilst beating. After it is stiff add a little dash of lemon juice.

Spoon into Ice Cream Cones and sprinkle with 100's and 1000's to decorate. Allow to set.
YUMMY !!!!!!!!!

I am off now to wrap my gift and clean up the kitchen but I just wanted to show you the remains of my beautiful vintage jug that I knocked off the shelf this morning. I still have it's little sister but I could have cried - Gosh I am so clumsy at times !!!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sorry It has been Awhile.......

It has been much longer than I had intended since I last blogged but I will make amends over the next few weeks. My busy time at work has subsided a little and I am just now finding my feet again. I am also getting my mojo back which became a little lost over that time. I have been looking at things around my studio which inspire me like these gorgeous pastel buttons. I like to tip them out and sort through them, each time I see a prettier button than the time before and think about the things that I could do with them.

One of the things that I have managed to do over the past few weeks is to make a mountain of Yo Yo's. Some have been for my Yo Yo Ville Quilt but I have also made lots and lots of "Eva" ones which I have put aside for a future project.

I seem to have lots and lots of different trims - I just love them.

So what inspires you? Do you see a piece of fabric and know instantly what it should become or do you have the pattern first and then look for the perect fabric?

This week I have been designing something a little different. I was asked to make a particular gift for my BF's granddaughter's 3rd birthday - So I decided to cut out 2 so hopefully by the end of the weekend I will have them made up and ready to show you.

Our week of the $21 Challenge turned into 2 weeks as I just have not had the time to get to the supermarket. I called a holt to it last night when I decided that I really must go and buy some food and to quote the girls who have complained about the lack of treats, some "real" food. This is how my fridge looked before the shopping expedition - Not too much left at all. It really is worth doing as you need to use your imagination a little more. One evening we even had a packet pasta side dish and an instant potato dish - Both of which were not too bad but were sitting in the pantry and needed to be used.

One of my families favourite side dishes is my own take on "Potato Bake" This is how I do mine :-
Peel and slice as many potatoes as you need and parboil them.
Line a baking tray with baking paper
Place the parboiled potatoes on top and sprinkle with Onion & Garlic Flakes with a little cracked pepper. Dice a little ham or bacon and sprinkle over. Pour over around 1/3 cup of thickened cream and sprinkle with shredded cheese. bake in the oven for around 1/2 hour.

It is delicious !!!
You can used fresh onion in any of my recipes that I give you but there is one little cherub in my house who says she does not like onion. (That is of course if she can see it) I use onion flakes so that I still get the flavour. It must do the trick because she eats them all without any complaints - LOL.
Have a great weekend - I will be back very soon - I promise :) Don't forget about the Ugly Swap which closes on Sunday night.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Do you have an Ugly?

One of my favourite stories as a child was of The Ugly Duckling - What a lovely story and a fantastic ending.

Most of us have a number of Ugly Fat Quarters in our stash which we bypass everytime we choose fabric for a project. Have you ever wondered what will become of these uglies? In our quest to be frugal Jenny and I have decided to put together a new swap for you called the Ugly Fat Quarter Swap. Using items that we already have in our stash. Here are the details :-

The Ugly Fat Quarter Swap - The Ugly Duckling that turns into the beautiful swan !!

Hostesses :- Fiona & Jenny

The Challenge :-

Send the ugliest fat quarter in your stash along with some matching trim and some embellishments like buttons, beads etc along with a chocolate for added inspiration and nourishment to your partner by the 7th March 2010. Please make sure that the fabric is sealed in a zip lock bag. Your partner may add 1 other fabric of their choosing and will create a beautiful project to send back to you by the 29th March 2010.

The Rules :-

Participants must reside within Australia and must have a current active blog.

This is a direct swap and e-mailing one another is very much expected.

Please try to create something that you would like to receive.

Sign-Ups Close 7pm AEST on Sunday 28th February 2010.

Partners will be released Monday 1st March 2010.

Take the Swap Badge from this post and put in your side bar.

To sign up e-mail Fiona or Jenny

with your name, address and blog address.

Come and Join us on this adventure !!

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Simple Challenge

In my quest to be frugal this year I have come across many great ideas and tips. Friends have also passed along their ideas and Jenny suggested that I buy the book "The $21 Challenge". The book is based on only spending $21 on food for 1 week. It is not designed to be used every week but when needed like when a large bill arrives in your letter box or you are saving for a major purchase. The conept is simple and one which I intend to adapt this week. Mr MC says that due to the size of our pantry and freezer stocks that we should try to do it for longer but we will see.

I have not restricted this week's spend to $21 because I like to buy "The Specials" each week of regular products that I use so those purchases will still be made. But I did make the weeks Fruit and Vegetable purchase which came to a total of $12.50. For this I bought Apples, Bananas, Potatoes, Carrots, Pumpkin & Sweet Potato. The trick is to plan meals around items that we already have in the pantry, freezer and garden. Mr MC would really like to see me run the pantry right down this make take quite a few weeks -LOL.

I will try to blog as many ideas and recipes as I can over the next few weeks to help you to also be budget wise and try to use items you already have. This is one of my family's favourite vegetable dishes. It is a great dish to prepare towards the end of the week when you do not have very much left. Dice lots of different vegetables quite small like Potato, Pumpkin, Carrots, Sweet Potato etc (Usually Root Vegetables). Place in a baking dish, mix in 3 tablespoons of olive oil and mix well. Sprinkle with 3 teaspoons of Salt Reduced Chicken Stock Powder (I use Massel), a sprinkle of Onion Flakes and Garlic Flakes and mix well.
Roast in a hot oven for around 40 minutes to make a delicious side dish.
To let you in on a little secret I do not like vegetables........... I have never liked them - I grow them for the family but I only really eat Potato and Lettuce BUT I adore this dish !!! It is perfect for the little people in your house who do not like them either - I am sure they will love them cooked this way.

Being a girl who likes pretty things the hardest thing for me over the past 7 weeks has been to not purchase unnecessary items - Like anything from the "Robert Gordon" display at a shop I went to recently - That was heart breaking stuff. But I really want to give this my best shot so have been trying really hard. One of the cheapest forms of pretty home decoration can be indoor plants. In Australia we are almost to the time when Cyclamens will be flowering and also the time for bulb planting for spring colour.

The beauty of them is that you can move them around from room to room to pretty up boring areas. I have a number of flowering pot plants which I just love to look out - They never fail to make me smile when I look at them - Especially since Mr MC use to call me "Gold Finger" He said that everything I touched turned gold (as in died) but over the years my thumb has become much greener and I now manage to keep things not only alive but in bloom.

Some plants are also perfect for taking cuttings from or for dividing into other pots. These make perfect and economic gifts.
I have a couple of days off from work this week so I am about to hit the UFO box - Watch this space for some completed projects.
Until next time,

Saturday, February 6, 2010

It is the simplest things that mean so much......

These days life becomes such a rush. I often think of us as little ants scampering here, there and everywhere and running backwards and forwards to our nest. It is my nest where I feel the most comfortable and want to spend so much of my time but of late because of work commitments and life in general we have not had much "home" time.

My youngest child (10) is my most sensitive. She has such a gentle heart and presented me with this through the week. It is a gorgeous scrappy page that she made whilst spending the day with her grandma. It reads "Mum Your the laughter in my heart, the smile that you give me is the beauty in your eyes." She wrote it herself and it brought tears to my eyes. She says she misses me- That makes you stop and think about the "real" things that matter in life and they certainly are not "material" things.

Every now and again you just need a little kick in the pants to remind you of what you have. Life is not about the material things - They make life nicer but they are not what really matter. The things that matter are the things that make you happy.

Other than my family one of the things that makes me very happy is my sketching, stitching and sewing. My life would not be complete without it. It brings me so much joy. I love making things for the important people in my life.

Stitching has brought some beautiful friendships into my life and I feel blessed that I have them.

Do you often think about the things that matter most to you? I am always saying "you never know what is around the corner in life" and that is so true. Don't put off things that you have wanted to do or are contemplating. Make each day matter and enjoy it.

It's a bit of a sentimental and soppy post - I didn't intend it to be that way but I just wanted to remind you of what really matters in life. Work out what things make you blissfully happy and things that don't and shed the things that don't. We are only here for such a short time and we need to make it count and enjoy it.

One of the things that matter to me is "blogging" So many of you that leave comments have become lovely friends. I look forward to hearing from you each time I post and love to pop by your blog and see what you have been up to. As I said before "It is the Simplest Things That Mean So Much"

Have a wonderful weekend,

Monday, February 1, 2010

Are you being productive ??

As usual I have lot's of projects on my to do list but as I am time poor at the moment due to work commitments I am only able to manage hand stitching at the moment - Just a little each evening. This is a project I have wanted to do for some time it is a sewing caddy designed by Bronwyn Hayes - All of the stitching is now completed but it will have to sit in the UFO box for a little bit longer.

Our first month of frugal living is now over - How did you go? I am really pleased with our household's efforts - We have managed to pay off some debt, reduce our household waste and we have not bought any non-essential items - I have not even purchased a single scrap of fabric. One of the ways we have saved money and reduced our household waste is by using a soda stream which we purchased for the girls as a christmas gift.

After the initial outlay (around $50 on special) each Litre of Carbonated Soft Drink costs just 80c and totally reduces household waste. The Gas bottle is returned once it is empty and exchanged for a full one for around $11.50.

You simply fill the bottle with tap water and press the button 3 times to carbonate the water.

Then just add a cap full of flavour. There is a huge range available. If you want more information check out the soda stream web site.

If you are looking for another project to add to yourt list check this out. Today is the launch of the February Freebie on the Among The Gum Trees Web Site from the lovely Joy over at Joypatch. It is a remote arm chair caddy and it is just lovely and very practical.

We have had quite a warm summer here in Tasmania but along with the warmer weather also comes the fire season. Tasmania has had a few serious fires this season. Even though this photo is very pretty sadly it is caused by smoke from a bush fire deliberately lit in the Derwent Valley. We can see it from our front door.

It has caused an eerie glow and the sky to be partly shaded. I hope and pray that the firies get it under control really soon and that no lives are lost.