Still obsessed with green stitching

As an artist, I really struggle with working in a series. Too many ideas bursting out, begging to be made. Lately I’ve pushed myself to focus on more limited themes, so I can explore them in more depth. A recurrent one at the moment, is green botanical imagery. Heavily textured, lots of deep greens, beautiful sparkly glass, and natural stones. Some of these are available in my Etsy store.

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It’s not easy being green… Making all the green things, plus Zucchini Brownies!

We’ve had some big changes this year. First my oldest changed schools. A couple of weeks later, after lots of planning and meetings with her medical team, my middle child was able to join him and started her first year of school. So exciting, and plenty scary, but she is so happy about it.

So now, for the first time in a few years (!) I suddenly have a couple of spare hours during the day when the baby is asleep. As any parent knows, there is no time to waste once the baby is sleeping. It’s off to the studio, cup of tea in hand, and straight to work!

At the moment, I am not sure what direction my work will take. There will definitely be some colouring pages. But mainly, I just need to make all the things, and see what comes out of it. I’m focusing on colour, foliage and florals.

For the past two weeks, it’s been all about leafy greens. I can NEVER work on just one piece, so here’s a snap shot of what I’m making…

Since I’m all about green at the moment, I thought I’d throw in a recipe for our latest family favourite – Zucchini Brownies! I got this idea from a friend (thank you Mel), who swore the zucchini was undetectable, and she was right! I usually replace half the sugar with 1/2 a cup of granulated stevia, or you can just stick to regular sugar.

Zucchini Brownies

2 cups of gluten free self raising flour

1 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of cocoa

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup of vegetable oil

2 cups of finely grated zucchini

2 teaspoons of vanilla essence

1 tablespoon of soy milk

1/2 tsp of salt

Instructions

  1. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a large bowl
  2. Pour in oil, eggs, and vanilla, and mix until just combined.
  3. Add grated zucchini and stir through
  4. Pour mixture into greased baking tray, and bake at 170 degrees for about 30 minutes.

 

Cutting back on technology, and Taking Stock

Sometimes, it’s easy to fall into the “low maintenance parent” pattern. Letting the kids watch too much TV, a little too long on the iPad, all of us sitting there staring at a screen, totally disconnected from one another. I doubt I am alone in this. Modern technology is both a blessing and a curse. Definitely a blessing when you are sitting in a doctors waiting room for an hour and a half with a bored 3 year old. Not so great when you realise all of you seem to have killed your creativity and motivation from the constant entertainment that an iPad can provide.

Lately, I’ve realised we’ve slipped into some bad habits, and I need to lift my game a bit as a parent. Rather then have the kids ask constantly to use the iPad or watch TV, I said at the start of the week that we were taking a break.  I made a conscious effort to ditch the technology, and spend better quality time with my children.

My youngest took it with surprisingly little complaint. She spent the days playing in her room, making a mess, then tidying it up, rearranging all of her special stuff. She helped me clean the house, taking great pride in dusting and packing things away neatly. She helped do the folding (folding things into strange little minuscule packages, but it’s a start!) She even helped me glue a craft project together, without making much mess. It made me wonder why I’ve started thinking it’s easier to let her watch too much TV when I need to get stuff done. Sure, it’s faster to just race around doing everything myself, but when I gave her the chance, she was actually pretty good at it.

My oldest took a little more convincing. Life without minecraft is tough, apparently. But he ended up getting out his lego, and building “real” minecraft instead. He helped me finish off the last of the craft project for the school art show, and then felt so inspired that he got out the scissors and made his own collage. We cooked together, and tidied up together. It was so much easier to get him interested, when the lure of minecraft disappeared!

I realised midway through the week, that I’ve fallen into that trap of being the mum who does everything. I’m not sure how it happened exactly. They used to follow me around the house “helping”. It was actually nice to have them engaged, interested and wanting to help again.  It’s funny how something like an iPad, which can make life easier and more fun, can actually make things harder. It’s so enticing and engaging, that it’s hard for anything else to compete. So we will keep up this new habit, of limiting technology.

Here’s some of the nice things we did this week:

Making: I went into my sons classroom, and ran a craft activity. The children traced around their hands, and then decorated them. I cut the hands out, and then my children helped me glue then into the shape of angels wings.

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Eating: My son helped me make schnitzel, and we made yummy schnitzel burgers with it.

Planning: my daughter helped me plan her 4th birthday. She asked me to make it a “surprise”. So on Saturday, she went out to the park with her dad, while my son and I madly decorated and got her cake ready. Her friends came over and all yelled “surprise” as she walked in.

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Creating: my son and I cut up some paintings and made a collage together. He helped me come up with ideas for his sister’s birthday card while we were making.

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Listening: to annoying orange song parodies. Not my choice! But my kids love dancing to them.

Reading: lots of library books, plus Harry Potter every night with the kids before bed.

Sewing: still working on a embroidery of my son

Drawing: I’ve been working my way through the 100 day project on Instagram, drawing and making birds.

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Make a cosy Pom Pom scarf!

A few years ago, (yes, years!) I bought a few metres of a medium weight wool fabric with the plan to make a scarf or shawl. I’ve finally got around to it! This scarf is wide enough to be worn as a shawl, or can be wrapped as a scarf if you need to be extra cosy.

To make the scarf, you will need:

A large piece of light or medium weight wool fabric. Mine was 160cm x 60cm, but you may want to adjust it to suit you (I am quite tall).
8 ply Wool remnants in bright colours
A wool needle
A few pins

Fold one edge of the fabric over twice, to make a 1cm hem. Pin about a 20cm section into place. Start to hem the fabric using blanket stitch. Continue the whole way around, pinning each section as you go. (I find if I pin the whole lot of a large piece, I end up getting stuck with pins!) Swap wool colours as desired.

Awesome blanket stitch tutorial if you need one

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Next, make 4 pom poms. Mine were about 5cm in diameter. Stitch firmly onto corners, using about 4 stitches. (If you need a tutorial on how to make pom poms, here is a really simple one by Pip, from Meet Me at Mikes).

Finally, rug up in your cute new scarf!

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How to make a cute tassel

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I’ve been making new bird mobiles for the last couple of weeks. When I first started making these about 6 years ago, they were fairly basic birds, without a lot of embellishment. Over time, they’ve become more elaborate. This time I’m aiming for really beautiful, ornamental birds, with lots of flowers and leaves, kind of like a hanging garden.

In amongst the birds, I love to add decorative extras, like hanging flowers, beads and tassels. I’ll have some tutorials about how to make the flower garlands coming up, but for today I thought I’d start with a tassel.

These are super easy to make, and make a cute little decorative element around the house. I love making them for the antique keys or handles I have on my cupboards. In bulk, they also make great garlands.

For small tassels, embroidery thread works well. These examples are about 4cm long. For larger tassels, you could use yarn.

Take a small rectangle of cardboard, lay a piece of thread (about 30cm) across the top, and then start wrapping the thread around the cardboard
Take a small rectangle of cardboard, lay a piece of thread (about 30cm) across the top, and then start wrapping the thread around the cardboard. The length of the cardboard, will dictate the length of the tassel.

 

Keep wrapping the thread around, until you get the desired thickness. The thicker it is, the fatter the tassel will be.
Keep wrapping the thread around, until you get the desired thickness. The thicker it is, the fatter the tassel will be.

 

When you've finished wrapping the thread, pull the string you laid at the top as tight as you can, and tie a firm knot.
When you’ve finished wrapping the thread, pull the string you laid at the top as tight as you can, and tie a firm knot. Trim the other end, and remove the cardboard

 

Neatly trimmed!
Neatly trimmed!
To complete the tassel, take another piece of thread, and wrap it around several times, then tie in a firm knot. Thread the ends through to the centre of the tassel to hide them, and the trim to match the rest of the tassel.
To complete the tassel, take another piece of thread, and wrap it around several times, then tie in a firm knot. Thread the ends through to the centre of the tassel to hide them, and the trim to match the rest of the tassel.

 

All finished! You can choose to decorate the tassel, by threading beads onto the tassel string of you wish.
All finished! You can choose to decorate the tassel, by threading beads onto the tassel string of you wish.
I added glass beads and little silk flowers to this one
I added glass beads and little silk flowers to this one