Summer fun, a big trip and a new hobby

Well I took an unplanned break from blogging, 6 months! Just checked in to see when my last post was, September!! Life got in the way and pushed blogging out of the picture for a while. I have missed you all and have a lot of news to catch up on I’m sure. And what have I been doing with my time?? Well, firstly I went to the UK! A family visit was long overdue and as we didn’t have the cash for us all to go, I was given a leave pass from hubby and took off by myself for two wonderful weeks.

Newstead Abbey

Newstead Abbey

Newstead Abbey

 

Autumn leaves

Autumn leaves

When you live overseas, you see your homeland in such a different light. I was taking pictures like a tourist, appreciating the old architecture and the greenness of the countryside. So beautiful. I am sad to say that Newstead Abbey, pictured above, has gone a bit downhill in the garden area. The gardens were always a highlight as they had different sections and themes, with old walls and tunnels and a majestic pillared walkway where vines would grow alongside the lake. They have all been left to crumble away and are now sectioned off by tape. It is so sad to see. The place is maintained by the local council and I guess they don’t have the budget for the upkeep. There is an entry fee, I can’t remember how much now, and there are plenty of visitors. There is so much history here, it was the place where Lord Byron resided and wrote his poetry. I do hope the National Trust can intervene and save this place.

Peak district

These pictures are from Dovedale in the Peak District, one of my favourite places for a day trip. The water in the river Dove is so crystal clear, and the views are breathtaking.

20151022_155603_resized 20151022_164047_resized Dovedale

The trip went oh so quick, and it was sad to say goodbye, but I was also really looking forward to seeing hubby and the kids on my return. I have never been away from them for that long before.

During my blogging break I also took up mountain biking!

Mountin biking

I’m loving it! Soooo much fun, with some amazing mountain bike trails available here on the sunshine coast, I’ve been having a ball. I’ve met some nice people too. I joined a womens only intro to mountain biking program which has been wonderful. There’s always a visit to a local cafe at the end, something to look forward to. The views are always stunning wherever we go.

Ewan Maddock Dam and glasshouse mountains

We have also been enjoying some time on the water with my stand up paddle board. Such a lovely way to do a core workout! We have enjoyed lots of beach days over the summer.

stand up paddle board

20151214_134257_resized 20151108_163007_resized fishing at noosa 20151231_170717_resized

A beached whale!

A beached whale!

We went camping, first time with the dog! We went to log dump campground near Tin Can Bay which was very basic, but quiet. The perfect place to escape from it all.

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I love camping as a holiday. Its not always the most comfortable way to spend a few days, but I love the fact that we are away from technology and game consoles, iPads and TV. Its nice to see the kids be kids, entertaining themselves with campfires, fishing and exploring. Its good to be together as a family without other distractions going on. It really is quality time.

Exploring the sand banks

Exploring the sand banks

And of course the usual baking and crochet has been going on. We had some success with the veggie patch this year, sadly no photos of our giant cucumbers. Its been way too hot to grow much else. I am looking forward to the cooler weather so I can get stuck into it again.

I will be back to show you some of my crafty goings on. They need a post of their own. I will be catching up on all news of a bloggy nature this week too, and hope to check in on you all.

T x

Crochet party favours

It was B’s birthday last month and we had a little party for her. She invite a handful of friends to do laser tag, then back to our place for cake, treats and playtime. Normally I would make up some lolly bags for the guests to take home at the end of the party, but as there were only a handful of girls coming I thought it would be nice to make them something that would last longer than the car journey home.

crochet heart favours

I made up some little crochet hearts with each girl’s initial embroidered on using chain stitch.

lolly jars

I bought some sweet little jars from the discount shop at $2.50 each. I filled these with lollies, then hooked the little heart around the handle on the lid.

personalised heart lolly jars

I thought they were rather cute, and cost very little to do. My girls loved them and demanded I make one for each of them too! The hearts are super quick to make, there are plenty of crochet heart patterns available on the web. I used this free crochet heart pattern. I made most of these while waiting for the kids doing their various activities.

heart lolly jars

The jars can be used to store coins or trinkets in once the lollies are gone. My girls have hung their hearts on their bedroom door handles. They could be made into key rings or bag tags afterwards too. Let me know if you give these a try, you can make some lovely colour combos.

crochet birthday party favours

card making

Its amazing what you can do with a few scraps of fabric, yarn, card and felt hanging around in the craft cupboard. A friend of mine had her birthday at the weekend and we are meeting for coffee tomorrow to celebrate. I had forgotten to get her a card, so I decided to quickly make one before the school run. I crocheted a flower, found a little button to sew on for the centre, cut a piece of fabric for the background and made a card using some leftover white card from a school project. I stuck all the bits on with craft glue. I think it looks rather cute.

crochet flower birthday card

I hope she likes it. Its not perfect, but then that is what makes handmade cards all the more appealing.

crochet flower birthday card

The little one and I spent an hour making cards for Fathers Day which was last weekend. We came up with these designs using scraps of felt and card from the craft cupboard again

felt handmade fathers day cards

I think we will be making more cards in the future. Definitely cheaper than the shops!

Have a great week 🙂

Five on Friday

Hello! So nice to be joining Amy for her Five on Friday link up again after the UK summer break. We are getting some nice spring weather here in Australia and some much needed rain. Our water tank is overflowing and things are looking nice and green.

I have a red and white theme this week, as all my projects this week featured those colours. Firstly, I made the yummiest strawberry ice cream from the strawberries we picked at the farm last weekend. They were getting a bit too mushy for normal eating so I tried this strawberry ice cream recipe. It worked out beautifully, although my picture does not look like the one on the link. I think its because my egg yolks from our eggs are so orange they have muted the pink strawberry colour. I have made strawberry ice cream before but it didn’t work out so well as it developed ice crystals and had an icy crunchy texture. This one is much better.

strawberry ice cream

 

I made my first dress this week for my daughter with the fabric I bought last weekend (remember the fabric splurge). I didn’t use the scary simplicity pattern in the end, but made up a modified version of a pillowcase dress. I am very happy with it and I think B is too. I originally made it with a straight hem border, but it didn’t look right, so I unpicked it and made a ruffle hem instead which is much prettier. I found some great tutorials on the net for making a ruffle hem and actually, I remember learning how to gather fabric many years ago at school, I had just completely forgotten. The best and easiest tutorial I found was from make it & love it, and I thank the lovely lady for posting such great instructions and pictures. I will finish the dress off with a little belt made from the hem fabric, as B wanted an elastic waist but it won’t work as it is a reasonably snug fit (I had intended for it to be much more flared). A little belt should pull it in nicely.

ruffle hem dress

 

I have started making some crochet christmas decorations. I can’t believe how quick and easy they are. 30 minutes and they are done! I made this little christmas tree.

crochet christmas tree

 

I also made a star, but ran out of yarn before the last point, arghh!

crochet star

 

Finally, our mulberry tree is bearing lots of fruit and we have red berries all over. I have never had mulberries before so I’m looking forward to experimenting with a few recipes for these. If you have any good mulberry recipes and don’t mind sharing them that would be great. I’m hoping they will make a nice jam.

IMG_5581 mulberry tree

Have a great weekend!
T x

Strawberry picking and a walk in the rainforest

I wish I could say we grew these ourselves but alas no, we picked these at the strawberry farm down the road. The kids had the best fun trying to find the weirdest, freakiest strawberries to pick, and there were plenty.

strawberries

Next weekend marks the end of the strawberry season were we are, and next friday its strawbfest. Strawbfest is a fundraiser for the local school, which is next to the strawberry farm.

strawberry picking

The farm donates a couple of truckloads of strawberries to the school. Parents and kids all muck in to pack and sell them during strawbfest, which goes on into the evening. How nice is that!

pick your own strawberry bucket

Its funny, but I was here visiting last year when strawbfest was on and I viewed the house that became our new home on that day. I can’t believe it was a year ago. It also means its one year since I finished work in Sydney and started preparing for our tree change. Time flies when you’re having fun!

view kondalilla

On friday Hubby and I had a rare day off and decided to do the Kondalilla Falls walk, as we’d had heaps of rain, we thought the falls would be positively gushing. Sadly part of the track was closed due to fallen rocks so we couldn’t see the falls. We could do part of the walk though, which was wonderful. We walked through the rainforest which was cool and lush and full of bird life.

kondalilla track

Along the way we came across little waterfalls tumbling down the rocks.

falls

waterfall

The forest was so green and fresh after the rain that had fallen the previous night. We spotted this little wallaby quietly nibbling near the track. Can you see him amongst the bushes?

wallaby

Afterwards we were famished and headed over to Montville for a pub lunch and a spot of shopping. Unusually just window shopping for me while Hubby went and bought two shirts and a pair of shoes! I made up for it on saturday though and had a fabric splurge. B wanted me to make her a dress, falsely thinking my new found sewing skills displayed in the making of my halterneck top now meant I was some kind of expert. We bought a dress pattern, which on first inspection looked simple.

simplocity sewing pattern

Once I pulled it out of the packet though there was an alarming amount of bits to sew together and lots of curves. Also an alarming amount of fabric required too. Something to do with the flared skirt apparently. We ended up spending 70 bucks on fabric!!! I wouldn’t buy a dress for that much! The fabric is gorgeous, but I did start panicking a bit.

chevron pink fabric

After sleeping on it I decided to make a much easier dress for B, an adaptation of a simple pillowcase dress with a waistband to give it some shape. Luckily she approves of this idea, which means there will be enough material left for a dress for me too! I can justify the splurge if I can get two garments out of it. Phew!

I hope your weekend was a good one 🙂

A handmade halterneck top

I decided on the spur of the moment to make a dress! Then I thought it might be a little ambitious for me, as I am not a sewer and barely know how to work a sewing machine. It could also be disastrous if I bought material for said dress and then stuffed it up, so thought a top would be a safer and cheaper option. I ventured off to the local fabric shop and found this cute cotton print.

cotton fabric tiny red print

Cotton is great for this climate and I loved the tiny print. The ladies in the shop were really helpful as I had no idea how much fabric to buy (note to self, measure oneself first before going shopping). They did a quick measure, and suggested 70cm would be plenty for me as the width was ample to work with. It cost me 16 dollars and I was a happy bunny.

baking paper pattern

I got home and had to make a pattern for a halterneck top with a simple drawstring tie fastening. I used the basic principles found here on bored and crafty, showing how to make a halterneck dress. I would just make the top half. I measured myself and traced out a pattern onto baking paper then stuck it onto my fabric with sticky tape ready to cut. I found this way easier than pinning.

cut out halter neck top pattern

I cut, pinned and sewed, really just making it up as I went along. I even sewed darts for the boob allowance! I don’t think I got them in the right place in the end but the finished top fits me nicely.

drawstring halterneck top

Photos taken by my littlest one who had to stand on a chair to get the tie fastening on my shoulder in shot.

cotton drawstring halterneck top

Now, I have a question for you sewers out there. How do you deal with darts when you have to sew the front darted piece onto the back piece? I cut both front and back fabric pieces symmetrically so they were the same size and shape but when I came to sew them together the back was longer than the front and the shapes wouldn’t match up. I had to add darts to the back peice too so it would fit. Any explanations very welcome for future projects 🙂

I am very happy with my top. It only took me half a day to make from start to finish! I might just make another trip to the fabric shop. Hubby is away again next week so while the cat’s away…

knitting, baking and cultivating

Strictly speaking this post should be titled crochet, baking and cultivating, but it just didn’t sound right. We had a lovely weekend pottering about in the garden and the kitchen. Its amazing what you can get done once the soccer season is finished! Here’s a quick round up.

crochet hearts and frilly bunting

I made this sweet crochet heart bunting using my three favourite colours that work so well together. I love this light turquoise cotton yarn. Once finished, I put my feet up on the deck with a cuppa, feeling quite pleased with myself.

crochet heart bunting

I decided to hang it on the wall in the family room off the kitchen. Hubby just rolled his eyes when he saw it saying ‘oh you put it there did you’.

coloured accessories in lounge room

dusk photo showing view from the kitchen

We spent time outdoors working on the veggie patch and using the compost from the bin. It turned out pretty good, I don’t have a great track record with compost making. Supposedly a simple thing to create, but I usually end up with a stinking slimey mess. This time is was crumbly and rich. We planted cauliflowers, broccoli, snow peas, lettuce, sugar snap peas, zucchini and a giant pumpkin seed, just for fun.

homemade compost

One of the chooks enjoying a peck about in the grass.

free range brown chook

We made lemonade using the last of the citrus.

homemade lemonade

A colourful tray of fresh veggies ready to go in the oven with butterfly lamb for dinner.

fresh roast veggies

I made some vanilla bean ice cream as we had an egg surplus due to hubby being away these past 2 weeks. My son helped make chocolate lava pudding to have with it. Not the prettiest dessert but so yum!

chocolate lava pudding with homemade vanilla bean ice cream
Thats my weekend round up. What did you get up to?
T x