Dec 24, 2015

A creative Christmas [Handmade]

You may have seen in the last post a few of the things I've made for this Christmas. We had our Christmas with one side of the family a couple of weeks ago and I got to give most of my handmade gifts then - they went down pretty well so I was pleased.

After that I was a bit burnt out from my strange creativity bug, but still had a little energy for a few more handmade bits and pieces... here's a big ol' dump of those things so that I have a record of this Christmas!

 Pretty simple but sweet name tags to tie to gifts:

I made a couple of pencil cases for my young cousins - they have a very small gift inside (e.g hairties) and I'll include some candy bark (up next) with each one.
 

Candy Bark. Basically I layered dark chocolate with white chocolate, sprinkled some hundreds & thousands on top, along with a couple of sliced up jubes (these were Natural Confectionary Co 'Fruit Salad' soft jubes... literally 2 jubes did the whole lot, and I just used them because they were left over from making Rocky Road!)

It only takes a couple of minutes to make. You just pour it out, add toppings, and set everything in the fridge...
 
... then snap into pieces while it's cold. (If it is warming up to the room temperature it doesn't have a nice clean break between the pieces).


I like this fabric and pompom combo so made a pillowcase for my daughter's room. She's only one and a half so doesn't sleep with a pillow... but it was pretty.


I attempted a teacup candle as a gift based on my vague memory of a 'day camp' activity from primary school. The wax wasn't as smooth and flat as I hoped it would be, but it turned out ok. :)


One thing I sometimes miss at Christmas is the taste and smell of the Swedish and German Christmas season. I was only in Europe as an adult for one Christmas but those flavours and festivities have stuck with me. OH THE AMBIANCE! Something that's hard to recreate here in the New Zealand summer. But I did find a recipe for the spices that you use to make Glogg (Swedish version of mulled wine) and even just smelling them takes me back. I layered the sugar and spices in this jar with cinnamon sticks and it looks (and smells) so good and makes a sweet and simple gift.
 


 Play food. There was more play food in my last post, but here's a quick sandwich I whipped up for my daughter to go with her play kitchen. I was really planning on having some stunning photos today of the play kitchen we are making her (making on Christmas Eve, yes...) but it's not really looking how I pictured it. If/when I can get it looking better................ wish me luck :s

Taken just now of our tree - man I LOVE seeing a pile of presents under a Christmas tree (as anyone in my family can attest to ;) )

 This Christmas season so far has been awesome. We've been enjoying lots of family time and I've found that since I made most of our gifts, I haven't even had to venture into a shopping mall once. That's what I call a win.

In other news, I can't believe we have a toddler now! Life is getting fun!

Merry Christmas,





Dec 8, 2015

All the things I made (because I am obsessed)

Hellooo.

I've been absent from this blog lately but I have been doing so much! Actually, not feeling like I have to share the things I make has made me so much more creative. I actually learnt to sew (more than just a straight line) over the past couple of month and I've been sewing up a storm.

I don't know what possessed me, but this Christmas I suddenly wanted to make things. All the things. All the presents, all the decorations, all the everythings. 

I honestly think that a break from blogging (and un-installing my instagram account) freed my brain up to be able to think for myself rather than being constantly "inspired" (i.e. jealous of and wanting to copy) other people's ridiculous projects.

As a result I've ended up becoming one of those people who does ridiculous projects myself.

I'm so pleased, tho, to have a truckload of project pics to show you of things I've made. 
Don't think this is normal - it may never happen again - but I've been on this weird obsessive making streak and I'm just going to make the most of it while I can!

I've never actually wanted to make stuff like this before. I love Christmas and I love buying gifts. But for some reason this year I've had a strange desire to create - and I've never found anything more satisfying and enjoyable. I don't know if I'll be able to stop.

Here's the first thing that jumped out of my sewing machine at me, made from fabric scraps. I saw them heaped on top of each other and thought they looked too happy together to not be made into a cushion. (My mum had to help me with the hidden zip!)

 
 
I also got a bit Christmas-tree-happy and made a few bits and pieces from felt, including a heart, star, gingerbread man, little red stockings, and these guys:

{Excuse Robin Hood on the left...but doesn't he look wise? And angry.}
{Our first proper fake Christmas tree that isn't tiny or tacky}
 
I had the brilliant idea of creating the entire nativity set as tree decorations, but after the wise men I ran out of steam and got very distracted by other things. Like:


Felt food!
I made sure all the icing on the biscuits and buns is removable so my niece can ice them as she pleases:
A customised cushion for a kid's room: 

... and the rather time consuming but fun task of transforming a crusty second-hand play kitchen into something new and lovely for my daughter as her big (only?!) Christmas present. Not finished yet, but it's looking light and bright and beautiful in our garage right now. I'll show you when it's done, but here's a before:

{Don't mind the phone screen shot...}

I also got to enjoy the felt-ball wreath that I had planned to make last Christmas but ended up finishing it sometime in February. Now it finally has a place inside our front door:





 I've also been making dolls, but those are still a little bit secret!

{just a prototype while I learned to sew them}

For my nephew I had to think of something not pink, which was actually quite hard if you could see my fabric stash! I also had determined that I wasn't going to buy more fabric and just use what I had in my hoards. In the end I caved and bought some fabric. And THEN I discovered this that I already had. Doh. It worked better with this navy stripe fabric than the other stuff I bought, too. But anyway, I made a shark bag/toy for putting things in. It was the only not-girly thing I could make other than clothes and now I just need to find something a tad more exciting to put inside it.

I made this quite adorb's mini cushion because the fabric and trim were so cute together. It needs a home. Unfortunately I couldn't get the stuffing to not be lumpy. What's up with that? It was the only type of stuffing available at spotlight. :(


I have actually made a few other things (doll bedding, a pillowcase for my daughter, etc) for gifts but this post is getting lengthy and I don't have pics yet.

There are still other things to sort/make before Christmas. We have a tonne of events on (like everyone else) and the hubs is equally busy with his own projects. Every week is full to the brim and these projects are just the fun stuff that I try to pack in when I can during my daughter's naps!

But on my list, I still want to make another bag/pencil case (maybe a monster one?), finish the play-kitchen for my daughter (and some accessories to go with it maybe), some clothing for my husband, and... I forget the rest, but there's always more. 

I also had the ambitious idea that we would not use wrapping paper (so wasteful! What is it with our society and creating waste) and I would sew drawstring bags for everyone instead. But now I'm kind of wondering how realistic that is. I think the olde paper of wrapping will be making an appearance again soon.





Sep 30, 2015

Mess Induced Depression (and how I'm dealing with it)

I always thought that "home-making" would be my dream job because I'm domestic and a homebody and I just like making food and decorating things and being organised, ya know?

And then I became a housewife with a toddler.

*uglycry*

 Lately I've found myself getting increasingly more stressed/overwhelmed/down in the dumps over little things like the constant never-ending suffocating mess that magically recreates itself day after day after day. (Actually every 10 minutes with a toddler).
When I am sitting in a cluttered room, I actually get a kind of claustrophic feeling like "I can't even walk in a straight line to get out of here."

I clean up after my daughter is in bed, then again in the morning, and again during her nap but holy wow-balls there is always another mess. A childless person might mistakenly think I hadn't had a clean up for a while, but this is right after tidying:

Tidying with a small tornado next to me, that is.
I think the sheer pointlessness of tidying is what got me. What's the point when I live with a toddler sized tornado? The repetition of cleaning and cleaning and cleaning was straight-up depressing.

And then along with that, the self-beration that goes with it. I am ALWAYS thinking "How come no-one else's house looks like this 24/7? What's their secret? Am I more lazy than other mothers? I know I am more lazy than other mothers. I have ONE child. What's wrong with me? Why am I so lazy? Why do I have to have hobbies? My only hobby should be cleaning. Everyone else's only hobby is cleaning.

And then I would immediately feel reeeeeally sleepy.
And mopey.
And lazy.
And sad.
And negative.
And dreading the cycle starting again the next day.
............ i.e: depressed.

I googled it and mess induced depression is common so I can't be the only one?

I knew I had to get some strategies going over the course of a few days I kept note of all the things that I was constantly tidying up. I mean the things that just always end up all over the place for no reason. And then I started thinking about how to tackle those areas. Here's what I've come up with:

1. Ella's toys and books always in piles between the couch (where we read them) and bookshelf
Solution: Hide 80% of toys in the hall cupboard because she never plays with them anyway. Put All the books we read frequently into a basket by the couch. Suddenly the living room was actually tidy all day apart from small things I could easily chuck into a basket.

2. Our books and magazines always getting removed from the ottoman
Still to do: Find, somehow, a spot to build a floating shelf on one of our walls and keep all our books up there out of reach.

3. Shoes. Everywhere all the time.
My husband's shoes are so big they are an actual hazard. We need a system. I just don't know what yet because we enter and exit the house by 3 different doors!

4. Paperwork forever covering the whole dining room table
I have no real fix for this yet (tips?) but I just dumped everything into a laundry hamper to get it off the table and it feels good.

5. My clothes all over the bedroom chair and surrounding floor, always
Um, no fix yet. If my wardrobe door could actually open more than halfway I feel like I would be way more likely to hang clothes up where they belong!! We were quoted 2K to install bifolding doors in the wardrobe (it's a standard double wardrobe size). Does that seem ridiculous to you? I'm sure I could just make one? Or not.

6. Bathroom clutter. Makeup, husband's shaving stuff, contact lenses + bajillion corresponding bottles of stuff
I put all my makeup into the wall cupboard shelf thing that's hidden behind a mirror in true 70's style, so that little hands can't reach it. We still have a whole window-sill of contact lens stuff that's not practical to store in the vanity under the sink because it's used 2xper day. And it doesn't fit in the wall-cupboard thing. And then there's all the sunscreen that doesn't have a home. :(

7. We like to pile things along the top of the stair rail down our hallway when we can't be bothered putting them in a certain room.
I don't know the answer. Own no things? That would work. Give ourselves small electric shocks whenever we place something on the stair rail? That would work better.

Today I swept through our house with that empty laundry hamper and dumped everything that was cluttering any surface into it. And then I hid it in my bedroom and closed the door.  And the house looked sparkly and clean and I still feel amazing 5 hours later.

{I will pay for this later}

I like everything to have a home, to be part of an efficient System, to be either useful or beautiful... blah blah. But mostly I just like feeling like I can walk in a straight line without faceplanting.




Sep 23, 2015

Happenings

 1. I went on a Girl's Day Out with my mum - and no baby. It was so long overdue and really made me appreciate how much I can get done baby-free! We started at 9.30am and the day included a cupcake and coffee from Sweet Bakery and Cakery (pic below - such a cute tiny place) and visiting my Grandma and then... shopping.

To say I've been overdue for some decent clothes is an understatement. You know how you open your wardrobe each morning and mentally dismiss each option, e.g, I would go along the rack of tops and for each one there would be some reason I wouldn't wear it. "Too clingy", "Has a tiny hole in sleeve", "Need to wear something under it and can't be bothered dealing with that", "Not comfy enough".. etc.
I decided to literally unload my wardrobe of every single item on that list.
And when I looked back in my wardrobe, there were about 3 tops left that I wanted to keep. Eye-opening!

I realised then, that every single day I reach for jeans and a tshirt top. Every. Single. Day. They are what I wear.
Once I accepted this fact, I realised I need to get some good quality t-shirts/tops that will go with everything and last me for, hopefully years. Accepting that there are certain things I ALWAYS go for made this process so much easier and helped me to avoid buying rubbish.

I came home with 3 tops that will cover most occasions. Today I got a new tan leather belt. Now I just need some tan boots, a pair of comfortable heels (I have never found any comfortable ones, ever), and a cross-body slim-line bag that I can use for baby-free events instead of the nappy bag. And then I'll be SET with my new tiny but functional wardrobe.
[New Jade green simple T, and coordinating baby accessory]
 2. Aside from the wardrobe purge described above, I realised that having my hair presentable every day is super important to my ability to leave the house. I always dress casual, but if my hair is ok then I feel like I'm ready for anything. It takes me ages to deal with my crazy hair (it's actually an afro underneath the heat styling) but for me it's worth it.

3. I bought a new concealer. I know you don't care, but for someone who suffers from such severe dark circles under my eyes that I'm actually scared someone will call the cops on my husband thinking I'm being beaten, concealer is important. I wish I didn't need it, but I do, and the new one I'm trying (my first 'proper' makeup brand) is Estee Lauder Double Wear concealer. It's performing a lot better than my usual supermarket brands!

4. My daughter is old enough to go on Fluffy dates with me. I can't tell you how happy that makes me. A week ago, we went for a walk along the beach and then sat in a cafe (out of the freezing wind) and I got to sip my latte in peace while my little buddy sipped her fluffy like a little lady. I feel like I've been waiting for this day all my life.
{Photo is from her 3rd fluffy date with me and Daddy at Mojo in town}
She is also old enough now to enjoy going to the zoo and swimming pool and other fun activities - so good.

 5. I'm over buying house stuff. 
Maybe I got burnt out with the impossible task of making our 70's house into a gorgeously perfect classic abode without spending money, and whilst keeping everything practical for a young dirty family. Suddenly I'm over it and I have this gut feeling that this is not the right time to be throwing money into our house. FYI - our house is pretty perfect as is, it's sunny and spacious and warm and functional. I just have issues with the original 70's kitchen, brown vinyl floors, etc etc. And we'll get to those one day. I'm just starting to accept it probably won't be any day soon.

BUT I am loving my new coffee machine that I was given for my birthday, and I've been keeping an eye out for nice little latte cups. I ended up picking up these ones from Country Road on sale and I'm tempted to go back and get a few more.
{Husband doesn't know why I can't just buy huge mugs instead, but don't these mini ones feel a million times morce schmancy?!}
 6. Kid's clothes. Oh they are SO FUN. Ella has a lot of hand-me-downs which is amazing, but when I need to buy clothes I try to get them from Next (an online UK store) as they are so much cuter than most NZ shops. These sneakers I am going to have to keep FOREVER.
P.S Why must they grow out of everything after 40 seconds??

7.  Just for kicks, here's what we were doing at this time last year:
[Being sleep deprived and taking grainy phone photos in the dark, that is]
 My girl was cute back then, but she has my heart even more now, and most of the time she lets me sleep a bit more too :)