Tuesday, 25 December 2012

It's all over red rover

Well here we are at the other end of Christmas, and my feet are certainly thankful for this. My lounge room looks like we were hit by a sand storm, Miss K is finally tucked up in bed and mum has gone off to my little sister's house to celebrate the end of another Christmas with a few drinks. (And then maybe a few more.)

Today was everything I could have hoped for and more. Miss K's reaction this morning when she got her first glimpse of the lounge room covered in toys and presents was absolutely priceless. And had it not been 6:45 in the morning, I'm sure I would have been even more ecstatic watching her joy. She spent the morning tearing paper off presents and trying to squeeze in as much play with all of her new toys as possible.

Digging in the new and still full sand pit

Meeting her new Elmo toy. He got carted around with us all day

Mum helping Miss K open another present. (Yes that's really what I look like at 7am)

Miss K "riding" her new bike

Brunch with Miss K's dad was more excitement, as he came with presents from him and Nonna as well as some friends of his back home. I got excited too because he bought McDonalds bagels with him, which are a rare treat for me.

On the way to lunch at my little brother's house Miss K actually fell asleep in the car, which did not fill me with much hope for her being able to stay happy for very long, but apparently all she needed was a 2 minute nap because she was full of energy for the next 4 hours. And then when we got home she only had an hour long nap before she was ready to get up and play again. I have no idea where she gets this much energy from but I'm thinking of finding a way to bottle it up to keep me going on long days.

Lunch was the same chaotic fun it is every time my whole family gets together. There were almost as many Nerf guns there as people thanks to my nephew, and no one escaped from the afternoon without at least one shot to the head. Mine came from mum when she got tired of listening to me explain something and popped a bullet off in my general direction. None of us realised it would get me right between the eyes until it met its target. Luckily Nerf bullets are only foam otherwise it could have been painful, but I couldn't complain because I was laughing too hard.

And then this evening after we had all had our nap and were feeling refreshed, mum went off to keep the party going while Miss K and I had dessert for dinner. (Because hey, it's Christmas.) 

But now the house is completely quiet and I have a new video game with thanks to Miss K (and Grandma) that has finally installed on my computer and is calling for me to play it.

I hope everyone else had a wonderful day filled with as much fun and laughter as I did, and I'll be back again soon once the effect of too much food has worn off and I can get the energy up to write again.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Santa Claus is coming...

I had to squeeze one more post in before Christmas was finally here.

The presents are all wrapped or set up and waiting to be played with. (except for the one I just remembered was still sitting in the family room waiting to be wrapped. Damn.)

Miss K's brand new Elmo bistro table 

The sand pit is finally full of sand

Almost all of the rest of the presents. 

Now all I have to do is crawl to my bed and fall asleep. Tomorrow is going to be a big day. After we've opened all our presents, we're going for brunch with Miss K's dad, then we've got lunch at my brother's place with the whole family, then I can finally come home and have a well deserved nap.

Merry Christmas all my awesome readers, have a great day tomorrow (or the day after for anyone behind us) and I'll see you on the other side.

It's beginning to look like a last minute rush

So is anyone else in denial that we only have two more sleeps until Christmas? My to-do list is slowly shrinking, but I still haven't wrapped a single present, and mum and I only just finishing decorating the lounge room this afternoon.

It's not Christmas at our house without some tinsel bunting

Miss K's contribution to the decorating is not touching this table

So this is technically an unfinished wall because we'll be stringing up some tinsel to make the baubles look like they're hanging on the wall, but you get the idea.

And I finally got a picture of the finished Christmas tree, it has had some rearranging done over the past few weeks as Miss K can't resist touching everything, so most days I find several ornaments sitting on the floor that need rescuing. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Santa vomit.

If you look very closely, you'll see a large white rectangle close to the bottom of the tree, that is actually an ornament that Miss K made with Grandma several days ago. She was so proud of it, and we have to show it to everyone when they first enter the house. Luckily we don't get a lot of new visitors around here otherwise I would get very tired of talking about it. Needless to say this will be saved and kept as a reminder of a time that is passing all too quickly.

In our house, no Christmas is complete until the toys come out. For the past few years mum has been collecting all kinds of irritating singing Christmas themed toys and Nutcrackers. Every year they take their place next to the tree to stand guard against potential thieves, and Miss K loves to spend her days racing the toys, or turning them all on at once and making them perform riff-offs. It's a guaranteed headache creator every time, but it keeps her entertained for so long I have learned to tune it all out.

We're doing all we can to keep the battery industry alive in Australia

Now we were very saddened this year to discover that apparently Nutcrackers have become uncool again. For several years the stores have been well stocked with these gorgeous toys, and mum always managed to find at least one that she felt needed to be added to the collection. Now we have to wait for the next time someone remembers these relics and decides to make them cool again to add further friends to our collection.

Won't someone think of the Nutcrackers???

Now yesterday I harnessed my inner handyman and built myself a marquee. Not from scratch of course, I'm not that good. But given that a lot of Miss K's toys are intended for outdoor use, I wanted somewhere safe and shaded for her to be able to play, even in the hottest days of summer, and given that my only experience in building has been flat pack furniture, I am pretty pleased with my efforts. Of course I built the marquee where our old pergola used to be, and the structure that was the roof is still in place. And yesterday I was surprised to find that it is less than 2.5 metres tall, as the marquee couldn't be erected to even it's shortest extension underneath it. Oops. But even crouching on the ground as it was yesterday, it was tall enough to fit Miss K and an inflatable pool underneath it, so we spent our afternoon having a swim.

I of course have to kneel to fit underneath it, but since it's not for me, that didn't really matter.

Luckily for us Nat was over this morning, so she helped me to move it, raise it up and tether it down with the tent pegs and rope provided. I am now very ashamed of our abilities to tie ropes and secure flimsy buildings, but luckily for me, I have a dad who is an absolute pro at putting up tents and tying ropes, so I'll get him in after Christmas to secure that sucker properly so it doesn't pull a Wizard of Oz on us and fly away to the Emerald City.

And of course what Christmas would be complete without a gingerbread house? My big sister bought a kit for her and my niece and nephew to put together and decorate, and she was kind enough to invite Miss K and myself to participate. Sadly I didn't get any good pictures of Miss K decorating the building, but the finished product is pretty impressive.

If you look closely enough, you can even see the "snowman" in the front that I got to decorate. Yay!

And I finally got a picture better than Miss K sitting on Santa's knee, and that's Miss K dressed as Santa. Now I have to add that this was actually her idea, but it wasn't her idea to pose for photos, which is why she has been stood on a table, in order to slow her down long enough to get a decent photo.


But of course chasing her around with a singing reindeer always gets good results too...

Well I've shared all of my new photos with you, and managed to put off getting anything productive done for yet another evening, so my work here is done. Tomorrow is now going to be a mad dash to get absolutely everything done before the clock strikes Christmas, but I shall try my hardest to check in with you guys before all of the celebrations have started (or finished).

So until next time, stay awesome my wonderful readers and I hope none of you are as poorly prepared for the next few days as I am. Of course if you are, you could always share this with me, the comments box is always open, and I'd love some confirmation I'm not alone in my lack of organisation skills. 

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

I just can't help myself

OK so I know it's still seven days until Christmas (eep) but I couldn't wait that long to start opening Miss K's presents up and having a look at them. I mean I need to know exactly how many batteries I have to buy (answer: a lot) or exactly how much sand that thing needs. What thing? I hear you ask, well just her brand new sand pit!

Ta Daaa!!!!

This is one of the best things about being a mum, the permission to play with kids toys again. Now todays "play" was really for research purposes, because nowhere in the packaging for this toy does it tell you exactly how much sand you need to fill it up. So I absolutely had to unpack it and put it together so I could know how much room is left after you add all of the moulded plastic shapes.

That's more moulded plastic than a room full of naked Ken dolls!

Plus there were no instructions to speak of so it is always a good idea to do a dry run of these things before the big day to save a lot of tears. Well that's my excuse any way and I'm sticking to it. 

Well my inner child has been satisfied for one night, so it's time to pack up all my toys like a good girl and go to sleep.

Stay awesome my lovely readers and be on your best behavior  because there's only seven more sleeps till Santa comes!!!

Monday, 17 December 2012

What a waste

Even from the other side of the world, the outpouring of grief for the victims and their families after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting can be heard and felt. Anything I wanted to write about this weekend somehow seems trivial compared to what these people are going through right now.

So instead of telling you guys any stories, or complaining about any of my first world problems, all I will say is from Miss K and myself, and probably from the rest of the people in Australia is that our thoughts and prayers are with you all as you deal with this terrible loss.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Losing weight with Photoshop

So as you may recall, yesterday I wrote a blog post highlighting my obvious mad "skillz" in Photoshop. I am of the opinion that Photoshop and other photo manipulation programs are an awesome tool for improving photos when used correctly. But one of the ways I find that they are poorly used is when they are used to blur the line between real and fake in advertising.

Advertisers have always used sneaky tools to make their images look appealing to the general public. Even in the days before they used photography, and the advertisements were drawn, the finished product was always slightly different to the models that they used. Once upon a time when I was an impressionable teenager I used to spend my down time reading Girlfriend and Dolly magazines (for any of my non-Australian readers, these are fashion magazines aimed at teenagers) and hating all the models that they used for their perfect blemish free and skinny bodies. It wasn't until years later that I realised that all of the photos they used had been manipulated in some way, and that even the models themselves didn't look like the finished product.

A quick Google search will turn up thousands of results of before and after shots of advertisements and paparazzi shots that have been manipulated in order to fit with what the advertiser or writer wants to tell you, and even better are the websites that have sprung up solely to point out when the manipulators have made huge glaring errors and then let the product be published without being fixed. Lots of three handed or one legged models, or rather ample celebrities who suddenly slimmed down overnight.

Well just to show you my wonderful audience (especially any teens out there who may not believe that those perfect pictures aren't real), I have taken it upon myself to use the same tricks that the advertisers and magazines use to manipulate a shot of myself. To understand the change, you need to see the before shot, so here it is.

Me before my digital transformation

Now this is how the photo came out of the camera. There have been no changes done to this shot, not even a colour balance fix. Note the ample figure, the double chin and the tuck shop lady arms. All will be gone in just a few seconds. Now in order to make the changes seem real I had to remove myself from the lovely brown background which was my lovely flat in 2008. Note the wonderful circa 1980's shag pile carpet back there. Can anyone else say classy??

Now using the same tools that the professionals use (liquify, smudge, dodge and burn) I have transformed myself from the person I was in 2008 to someone completely different. Prepare yourself for some real magic here...

Ta daaa!! Go ahead and scroll up just to make sure your eyes aren't deceiving you, I'll wait.

Now remember I am just an amateur, so my results aren't perfect. But I wasn't aiming for perfection, just the opportunity to prove a point. Personally I hate the after shot, but that is because I know the person in this picture is not me. My teeth aren't that white, my skin isn't that smooth and my arms aren't that skinny. To me this looks like a plastic reproduction of me, perhaps what would happen if Madam Tussaud decided to make a wax model of me. Also now I think I have a bobble head in this picture, which just makes me feel self conscious of the size of my head in real life... 

On top of removing a large portion of my arms, waist and stomach, I also decided to increase the size of my eyes, plump out my bottom lip slightly (because I have a crooked smile in real life), close the gap between my two front teeth and straighten up my nose. (Again crooked.) My skin has been airbrushed in order to even out the complexion (and also hide little errors I made during my weight loss phase) and the bags under my eyes have been smoothed out. I left in my smile lines because I happen to love them, but if this was a professional job they would have been removed too. I also tidied up my brow line too because I was horrified when I first looked at this photo to realised I was in desperate need of a pluck at the time. Real advertisers would also have extended my neck, because there is nothing sexier than a giraffe according to them.

So by all means, keep reading your fashion magazines and reading every billboard that you pass, but just remember that even the model that posed for those shots wishes her body was that perfect. And just to burst a further bubble for you, most of the times the scenery behind the model is also added after the photo is taken?? Don't believe me? Well that's probably because I was totally in Greece when this photo was taken...


Well that's me done for another night, I'd love to hear your opinions on the advertising industry, or any compliments you may have for my wonderful manipulation skills or incredibly photogenic face. Or even just some reassurance that my head doesn't look huge in the after shot, because seriously, to me that thing just looks like it's about to jump out of my computer screen and laugh at me.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Turning a negative into a positive

Hello again my lovely readers, I am back again with a tale of frustration with a happy ending.

So in the spirit of all things Christmassy, I wanted to get Miss K's photo taken with Santa this year. We had her photo taken last year at the shopping centre in the next town over, and the woman who took the photos was so wonderful and the pictures came out so beautiful, that I wanted to do it again this year. I should have known that Miss K wouldn't want to play. Already she goes out of her way to hide whenever a camera appears, add a strange fat man with a large beard into the mix and she loses her head.

I actually started preparing Miss K for these photos two weeks ago by going to the same shopping centre and getting her to meet Santa briefly to try and take the fear out of the situation. The company running the photo stall let you talk to Santa for free if you want, and use it as a gauge for whether or not they can get the children to co-operate long enough for a photo. Well Miss K was wary of the jolly man in red last time, but warmed up enough to actually give him a high five, and chatted to him. We then spent the next two weeks pointing out every picture of Santa or stuffed toy with a red hat on in an effort to get her used to seeing Santa everywhere, and hopefully make him a familiar figure. She even says Ho Ho Ho anytime she sees anything remotely Santa-like, which I foolishly took as a positive sign. Well the big day rolled around yesterday, and I spent the whole morning preparing her for the eventuality that she would have to sit on Santa's lap and get her photo taken. We practiced our camera faces and watched other kids get their picture taken for the ten minutes it took to reach the front of the line. But when the big moment came Miss K refused to co-operate, and even tried to throw herself out of my arms and get my big sister to come rescue her. She wouldn't even let me stand next to him while holding her.

In the end I admitted defeat and decided that no photo is worth the grief Miss K was going through and have given up on getting her photo taken with Santa this year. However thanks to the joys of Photoshop, I can still get my photo with a bit of manipulation and a few clicks of the mouse. So the picture that will grace my Facebook page this year, while not as professional as everyone else's is so much quicker and quieter to accomplish.

See? So much easier

Now it doesn't matter that Miss K looks like a giant sitting on that gentleman's lap, the important thing is that I have my Santa photo. But once I finished this picture, I realised the gold mine I was sitting on right here and decided to use my obviously awesome photo manipulation skills to add Miss K into further pictures. 

Everyone always tells me how good a dancer Miss K is, so I decided to put her up against some professionals and see how she fared.

Those are some serious jazz hands right there

I have decided to send her to auditions for real shows as soon as I can. She is clearly the most superior dancer in this photo. But in case the judges don't appreciate her talent as much as I do, I have decided to see how she would look in a proper nine to five job as well. Just so that she has a back up career waiting for her. And what better career than one in construction?

Now who wouldn't hire that??

So I have seen the future, and I'm pretty impressed. I think next thing to do is start planning Miss K's future holidays. I'm thinking Paris, or maybe Fiji. Or even Egypt. What one year old doesn't want to see the great pyramids??

And that is how you make lemonade when your daughter decides to start throwing lemons at all of your plans. 

Well that's all from me for now, I'm off to figure out how to get my daughter into the White House...

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Miss K's first Christmas

Hello again my lovely readers, I'm back again for more bloggy goodness. I have decided that given that most of you weren't around to view Miss K's first Christmas (given that this blog was still 2 months away last December) that I would share the fun with you guys today. Now I am ashamed to say that if it wasn't for the dozens upon dozens of photos I took in December of last year, I would remember very little of Miss K's very first Christmas. In my defence I was still wearing my mum training wheels at the time, so a lot of those months are just a blur. Luckily for me (and all of you) I was a lot better at taking photos last year as there were so many amazing things I saw that just had to be captured as Miss K rolled over for the first time, sat on her own finally, smiled for the first time and all the other wonderful memories that babies create.

So of course the lead up to Christmas saw a lot of first; Miss K seeing a Christmas tree for the first time

I think she's applauding it, but I can't be certain.

And of course decorated the Christmas tree for the first time. I do remember her being a lot more co-operative last year.

And of course on the big day she got to discover the joy that is ripping wrapping paper to shreds

And thanks to her many aunts and uncles (and Grandma of course) she was spoilt absolutely rotten too.

This is just the presents she got first thing in the morning before all the aunts and uncles descended on the house. The little walker down the bottom right most of you should recognise as the awesome toy that helped her to gain the confidence to finally walk earlier this year. The Elmo plane was Grandma's present, and both the babies of the family got one, and that white dress on the couch was a hand made gift from my wonderful aunty. Amazingly enough Miss K still fits in the dress 12 months later, but not for much longer I think.

Everyone loves a good button to push.

And of course what Christmas is complete without a heap of animated toys that sing Christmas carols to play with?

This little fellow is so well loved by all the kids in our family.

I don't know if she's wrestling with him or hugging him...

The one memory from Christmas that is still as clear as day is the fact that I ended up rushing Miss K to the emergency room 2 days before Christmas with a 39 degree fever, and ended up spending 4 hours waiting to see a doctor who put her on steroids and antiemetics, both of which are incredibly dangerous for babies to be taking. Of course her illness meant that her nose dripped more than our kitchen tap over the whole of Christmas, meaning I have had to Photoshop out a lot of unsightly boogers from our Christmas photos. 

While the little things may be a blur now, I know that our Christmas last year was a lot of fun, and full of laughter and love, and my whole family being there to help celebrate. And I know I've probably said this before, but the real reason for me to celebrate this season is my family, and they are the ones that make this time of year a party, and something worth being around for. 

Well that's it for me, I'd love to hear from you guys, so here's a question, hopefully to put you people in the mood to chat finally. What makes Christmas special for you guys?? Do you have any traditions that you have to follow every year, and how do you celebrate this season?? 

Well until next time, stay awesome my wonderful guests, and remember that little box down the bottom of this page is always open so please drop me a line and share your Christmas with me.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Busy little blogger

I know I have left it too long once again between posts here. I watch all of these wonderful bloggers manage to post with amazing regularity and all I can do and sit here and wonder how do they manage to fit it in between feeding their kids, cleaning their houses and actually doing the projects that they blog about. I am lucky if I get dressed before lunch time lately, so such capability just leaves me in absolute awe.

So this blog is just a quick update of our weekend really, because the silly season is well and truly starting, and Miss K and I are starting to find our little calendar filling up for the next few weeks, and this weekend just passed was an excellent start to the party season. As predicted, the Christmas tree got a face lift and we now have a lounge room full of Santa vomit. (For a full explanation of that term, check out this blog post here)

Santa vomit in progress....

This is the point where I realise that I never actually got a photo of the finished product (oops) but if you've seen one Christmas tree you've seen them all really so you'll just have to take my word that it looks awesome. Of course my special little Christmas elf was right in the thick of things playing with everything she could get her hands on and having an absolute ball in the meantime. 

I had to rescue this plastic candy cane from her mouth several times during the day.

On Saturday afternoon we went to my little brother's house for his daughter's second birthday party. There were lots of kids there, as well as a jumping castle, several motorised cars and Donald Duck...

Yes that is my lovely daughter running away from a grown man dressed up as a duck. Trust me, if I didn't know it was my uncle underneath that mask I would have run too. Considering that it was about 30 degrees in the shade on Saturday afternoon that was not a very comfortable costume for my poor uncle to be wearing. Luckily the kids loved the surprise and even Miss K warmed up to him eventually

I swear that is not pure terror on her face...

I even got my photo taken with him, even though by the time he got to me he was so tired and over heated that he had started to wilt somewhat...

No he's not eating his hand, he's fixing his face...

Once the presents were opened and the cake had been cut my brother bought out my niece's wading pool, at which point I realised I had forgotten Miss K's bathers and towel. Well Miss K has never been one to let that stop her and decided to jump in the water fully clothed. 

Well that's one way to cool yourself down...

Of course her cousin seeing Miss K jump into the water fully clothed decided this was an awesome idea and jumped right in after her. So there was nothing left to do but strip both the girls off and let them both back into the water. Of course my niece isn't quite as physical in showing her excitement as Miss K is, and got several face-fulls of water thanks to Miss K's vigorous splashing. All the photos my sister got show my niece looking rather miserable, and she did spend a lot of time yelling at Miss K to stop. But all of us adults had a good laugh. When the girls started shivering we decided they'd had enough time in the water and it was time to go home and put Miss K to bed for a nap. 

After tea Miss K and I went to my big sister's house so she could test out taking photos of Miss K wrapped up in Christmas lights. While the project wasn't a complete success I think she managed to figure out how to do it properly next time. I hope to have another crack at it again soon, and hopefully I can have some decent photos to show you this time to make up for my own terrible attempts. 

As for Sunday, I decided that one exciting day was enough for this weekend, so we had a very quiet Sunday hanging around the house and watching Miss K try her hardest to destroy the Christmas tree.

Well that's it for now, I'll be back again soon I hope, providing that Miss K allows me to have some quiet time over the next few days. Stay awesome till then wonderful readers.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Miss K and the Christmas tree

Well I had hoped to come back over last night to update you guys on our Christmas tree, but after spending half an hour fluffing up fake branches, then another ten minutes trying to figure out how to anchor the tree to the wall (Miss K is too likely to pull the whole thing onto herself in five minutes flat if we let her) and another twenty minutes helping mum put the lights on the tree, I was all out of energy and motivation, so you guys had to wait.

Now it may surprise you (or it may not, I could be wrong) to discover that our Christmas tree this year is actually pretty bare. We rushed to get the lights on before Miss K went to bed, so we could show her really the most exciting part of a tree, but once we plugged them in and turned them on, we discovered that the effects of the lights on a bare white tree were so stunning, we have decided to leave the tree ornament free this year. (Whether or not this actually stays the case I'm not sure, mum tends to have a lot of changes of mind, so we could be back tomorrow covering the tree with every ornament we have to hand.) Normally we have what we call the Santa vomit effect, where every last square inch of tree is covered in ornaments and tinsel, till it looks like something that Santa would regurgitate after too many plates of cookies and glasses of milk. But for now I am loving the simplicity of our tree, as well as the added bonus that there is nothing small for Miss K to pull off and break or choke on.

Given that by the time we were finished last night, it was after 8 o'clock, it was pretty dark outside, but still too hot to pull our blinds down and block out the only source of cool air we have, so I actually got to test out one of the most popular Christmas themed photos at the moment...

Now of course given that Miss K wasn't going to be wrapped in the lights (well not yet anyway) and I didn't have a proper source of natural lights, my picture was bound to come up a lot different to this one here, but it still makes me smile every time I look at it.

My big sister and I are planning to do the proper Christmas light photo at another time, but for now I'm happy with my efforts.

Well that's all for now, Miss K and her cousin are currently trying to swap sippy cups so I need to go and separate them yet again. I'll be back again soon with more Christmas fun.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Guess what we're doing tonight

Can you guess what's on my list for tonight??

That's right, we're decorating our Christmas tree tonight. (Or as we call it with Miss K our Santa tree because every time she looks at it she yells out "HO HO HO!!!")

So I've got our Michael Buble Christmas CD pumping and Miss K and I have been given the job of spreading out all the branches while mum runs down the street to buy some coloured Christmas lights because we only have white ones and we want different ones this  year.

I shall be back later on with photos of the finished product. 

And to explain why Miss K is doing her decorating wearing only a nappy, the barometer has spiked at 38 degrees here today, and barely dropped at all, despite the fact that the sun is as we speak on it's way out. So in the name of comfort Miss K has been stripped down to the bare minimum. Oh to be one again.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

The begrudging model

Well I promised I would be back today with photos of Miss K modelling her brand new kimono top, but I forgot that I would have to contend with the model herself and her ever changing and fickle moods. Well it took both me and my baby sister ten minutes of begging, coaxing, persuading, distracting and bribing of Miss K to finally get some decent pictures. Unfortunately they are all on my baby sister's phone, so I only have one to share with you now, which is the one she posted on Facebook for me today.

I will be cornering my sister the next time she comes home and insisting that she uploads the rest of the photos onto my computer straight away, because there are some absolutely beautiful ones there, which put my attempts to take her photo to shame. 

Of course my photos don't come with the lovely filters and effects that only come from Instagram. But I can't complain too much because at the end of the day Miss K really did love her new top (she actually kissed it when I brought it out to show her) and I did get some pretty pictures of her wearing it too, so all in all I guess it was a success.

Well that's all from me for now, it is CSI Saturday here right now and I don't want to miss any more of my stories. 

Guess what I've been doing

Can you guys guess what I have spent the past two evenings doing?? I'll give you a hint...

No I have not spent the last two nights staring at a t-shirt hanging on my door handle (on a truly horrible and old fashioned crocheted clothes hanger too) I have actually spent the last two evenings making this lovely kimono top. This was actually the hardest sewing project I have undertaken to date, for several reasons, first of all it wasn't just squares of fabric of different sizes sewn together, and secondly that bright green strip you see running across the top of the shirt is actually bias tape, and something I have avoided at all costs before now, with good reasons too. I always knew the first time I sewed with bias would be horrible, and I wasn't disappointed. The biggest problem I came across with the bias is that I actually bought tape that was too small for what I needed, meaning that I had to do a lot of fiddly messing around with the tape to make sure it fit on the top properly and didn't look ridiculous either. That took me three hours to do. Three very long and frustrating hours. So the next time I do this top, I will be making sure I use thicker bias tape which hopefully will make everything go a lot smoother.

Yes you heard me correctly then, this is only the first of hopefully many kimono tops I will be making. This was really just a practise run to make sure I could actually follow the pattern and have it resemble a piece of clothing at the end. Because of this the fabric I used here was a very cheap and thin cotton (that I found for $5 at our local Spotlight store, can anyone else say bargain??) which as my little sister told me made this top look like it is meant to be hospital scrubs and not a gorgeous Japanese inspired piece of clothing. But I'm not too worried because the next time I attempt this it will be in a softer, possibly more stretchy fabric. And because I made plenty of mistakes this time around, I have learned what not to do next time so I should get it done a lot quicker too. And the first thing I will be doing next time is making sure I don't have the iron on too hot when I press the fabric because the very first thing I did was melt one of my cut out pieces of material while trying to iron out the creases made while the material was stored in its shopping bag. Luckily I hadn't even pinned the pieces together yet so I didn't have any unpicking to do as I had to scrap that piece and cut out a new one. Luckily I bought way too much material for this project, so I still had more than enough left over to cut another piece out. But it does mean I now don't have enough to make a matching pair of pants to go with this top. 

Hopefully I can return tomorrow with photos of it being worn by Miss K. Sadly by the time I had made the final finishing touches on it tonight, she had been in bed for 3 hours and I couldn't bring myself to wake her up just to make her model her new top. But I know she will be super excited to be allowed to wear it tomorrow, as I let her try it on a few times today while I checked hem lengths and made sure it fit her properly, and every time I made her take it off again she cracked the poops at me big time. Fingers crossed I can get her to sit still long enough to get some decent pictures for you guys too, but I have a feeling I'll have to wait until she's strutted her stuff on the catwalk (our lounge room floor) several times first. 

Well until then I am super duper tired now and I need to go to bed. I will hopefully be back tomorrow with new photos, but until then stay awesome my lovely readers and for all of my American readers I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of good food and happy families.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

We've got mail

So the day I have been waiting for a whole week finally arrived today, our parcel from Western Australia arrived this morning with Miss K's new hair accessories from Little Birdies. Miss K and I both had trouble containing our excitement while opening the box, and her reaction when she saw the hair clips was more than I could have hoped for. She was so impressed with them she grabbed them out of the parcel before I could even stop her and started trying to put them in her hair. Then she proceeded to strut around the lounge room like a little catwalk model while mum and I oohed and aahed over her. I even managed to get her to sit still long enough for me to take some photos to show to my friends on Facebook, including the lovely lady who made the hair clips in the first place.

The look of pure concentration on her face is thanks to Yo Gabba Gabba, which she was watching at the time.

And just because I am such a sucker for that pretty face, I couldn't resist snapping some more photos when she sat down for morning tea too.

That look is because I'm interrupting her watermelon to make her look at me. 

Well that's all for now, and I can now finally stop stalking the poor postman everytime he rides past on his motorcycle hoping he has a parcel for me. Unless any of you wonderful readers would like to start sending me gifts? I know you're all such a generous bunch... no? Alright then never mind.

Well stay awesome everyone, I'll be back again soon.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

A Scrooge's Christmas planner

Hello again my lovely friends, I hope that you are all well and healthy. Don't I just sound like a sappy motivational speaker right now?? Just wait a second and I'm sure I can find more platitudes to throw at you while confusing you with my vocabulary of large words...

Or I could get right down to the heart of what I've come here to share with you wonderful people today. Now as I promised right before the batteries in my camera died, I am going to share with you all my version of a Christmas planner. But as always because money is more of a rumor than anything around here, it will all be done on a budget, using things that I already had lying around the house.

Just some of the things that go into making a Christmas planner

Now if you are like me, you obsessively stalk follow a lot of blogs. And if you're lucky like me, you'll have found some incredibly talented and disgustingly smart people out there who can make magic happen every time they put their hand to something. The lovely ladies at the blog Eighteen25 are three such ladies. So naturally when I saw that they had put together a gorgeous book for organizing all things Christmas, I had to rush over to their website and check it out. (You can do the same here.) They have even been so kind as to offer free printables for anyone who wants to make a Christmas binder in the same style as them. Now sadly as I am currently without a printer, I had to make do with admiring their binders from afar and then use whatever I had on hand to make my own instead. (Sigh) But as you will see, I have managed to create something that is entirely my own, with small touches of homage to the lovely ladies at Eighteen25 simply because some of their ideas were so great, I couldn't not include them.

I have to stop and brag for a second now, because I am pretty chuffed with the finished product here. And the cost of the whole project was pretty impressive too, as the only money I ended up spending was $2.50 on a notebook to decorate. Everything else that you see here comes from what I had in my stash of crafty supplies, making this not only a pretty way to get organised for Christmas, but also a thrifty project. It has the added bonus of making my compulsive hoarding of papers and ribbons now look like an economical plan instead of the crazy actions of someone who just loves shiny things.

The papers I have used come from various places, the red background paper was a freebie with a scrap booking magazine I bought a few Christmases ago, the green paper and the red and white striped papers are offcuts from old projects. The shape of the green paper was made by tracing around a piece of die cut chipboard and then cutting out the finished product. If you are creative enough to be able to draw things free hand (which I am not) then this should be easy enough for you to do without the chipboard, otherwise there are always things lying around the house that you can use to create shapes for your projects.

This metal plate is something I got in a goody bag a few years ago when I went to a scrap booking retreat with my sisters. I have been searching for years for a good use for it, and I am so happy that it finally has a new home. But if you are not lucky enough to have something like this, paper or cardstock is a good replacement. The flower and pearl brad again were items I picked up in bulk packs ages ago and have had sitting around just waiting for the right project. I made the title with my trusty old Dymo labeller and some green Dymo tape that is actually very hard to find these days. Now that Dymo has gone digital my old hand held labeller is looking very old fashioned, but I love the look it gives. 

This ribbon is a recent purchase that I made, it came in a pack of 20 reels of ribbon for $20, but I think I may have been a bit too mean in my cutting because there is apparently such a thing as not enough ribbon to make a bow with. So if you are going to put ribbon on your book to keep it closed, don't forget to be generous with your measurements. Or make sure you have really skinny fingers because already I can tell that bow is going to be a pain in my rear end. Ribbon is one of those wonderful things that can be found absolutely everywhere. I have lots of pieces of ribbon in my stash that were used in packaging, on clothing and even from bunches of flowers I have received over the years. My family know that they are not allowed to throw any pieces of ribbon away as I can always find a use for them.

I only did four sections in my book; to do, gifts, menu and calendar. There are any number of other sections that you can include in your own Christmas planner, like cards, traditions, travel, or anything else you can think of, but really everything you see here is all I need to worry about so I didn't think it was necessary to add anything more. Maybe one day I will have a need for extra categories in my Christmas planners, but for now I think less is more. Again the tabs were made out of card stock that I had in my stash. I made sure to use a folded piece of card stock, and stick one side of the piece on each side of the page, just to make it a little stronger and more durable. If you don't have card stock, cereal box cardboard would be a good replacement, covered with wrapping paper or anything else to make it look pretty. The shape of the card stock came from tracing around die cut chip board again, but I'm not really happy with it, so next year I may have to think of something new. The pages are blank at the moment, but I will be decorating the front page of each section with something cute. For the gifts section, it will probably be a banner with the words "making a list and checking it twice" or something equally Christmassy, and I'll think of something else for the rest of the sections soon, I just couldn't wait until It was completely done to share it with you guys.

And of course no Christmas project is complete without an elf running around and getting into everything so here is one I prepared earlier.


If only she got as excited about the cleaning up as she does about making the mess.

So before I go, a few tips for you guys who are looking to make some Christmas themed projects on a budget.

  • Get creative with the supplies that you use. Christmas themed wrapping paper is super duper cheap and in abundance at the moment, and it can be just the thing to brighten something up
  • Don't feel that you have to go out and buy exactly everything that some one else used to make something, sometimes using the things you have at hand can make a result that is just as beautiful and even more personal to you
  • Always make sure you use a good quality glue though because you don't want everything falling apart before you have a chance to use it. (I recommend Tombo latex glue, because it dries pretty quickly, but not too quickly that you don't have a chance to re-position something if you didn't do it right the first time. Plus you only need to use the tiniest amount because it spreads pretty far)
  • Don't forget that Christmas is not about spending money, it's about spending time with your loved ones, so don't stress too much if everything has to be done on the cheap. Just remember that it is so popular that these days it's not called being a cheap-ass, it's called thrifting. 
Well that's all from me for today, my little sister Natty has been very patiently sitting in my lounge room for two hours now waiting for me to stop being anti-social and entertain her so I'd better go look like I'm interested. I'll be back again soon with something else super thrilling I'm sure, so stay awesome till then.

*Editors note: This blog post has been linked to the following link parties;
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