A Picnic Rug

I’m very pleased with this little project.

I’ve spent a long time lusting over pretty picnic rugs, and finally decided to make my own for this Spring and Summer.

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It’s made from a vinyl topped table cloth (for waterproofing the back) and patchworked duck cloth.

This was an easy little project. The most time consuming part was hand stitching the binding. At a fairly slow pace, I knocked this project over in a week.

I bought this ‘beautiful’ tablecloth on ebay for $8. I figured it didn’t matter too much what it looked like, as you wouldn’t see it when the rug’s laid out anyway.

table clothOnce I’d quilted the patchwork top to the backing, I trimmed off the excess table cloth, and then added the binding. I made the binding myself, because I’m too cheap and fussy to buy bias tape.

Here’s a glimpse at how the back ended up looking.

IMG_5508Penny was insistent on helping me take photos.

IMG_5505I’ve been toying with the idea of adding some hand embroidery to my quilts lately, so I thought I’d try it out first on this rug.

IMG_5502It’s not perfect, but practice makes perfect!

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As per usual, I made far too much bias tape, so I sewed around the edges of the left overs, and then sewed the strip to the back of my picnic rug, to hold the rug together when it’s rolled up.

and here’s the finished product.

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IMG_5512I’m so happy with it, and can’t wait to have our first picnic with it!

Abby xx

 

 

 

 

 

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Cooking for those who hate cooking

You’ve probably picked this up by now, but I’m not a big fan of cooking.

I’d rate cooking as being about as enjoyable as ironing, cleaning the bathroom or mowing the lawn. Unlike ironing, cleaning the bathroom and mowing the lawn however, I have to cook every day. Ick.

I’m amazed by the number of cooking shows on tv. Is it not enough that we have to cook everyday? We have to watch other people on TV doing it too? I’m waiting for the launch of MasterLaunderer. A show where contestants compete in stain removal, brightest brights and making your clothes feel like you’re wearing a million baby duck feathers. I would watch that.

Oops, went off on a bit of a tangent there…

squirrel-up-dog-gifSo,

I’m very lucky to have a husband who enjoys cooking and does it well. In the past he has taken on the lions share of cooking, but now that I’m home most days, I’m cooking a lot more. When Matt’s away with work, all cooking responsibilities fall to me, so I’ve had to devise some ways of feeding myself and Miss E, without having to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

One of my strategies is to cook during Miss E’s nap times in the middle of the day, when I’m not worn out, and still have a little enthusiasm to bring to the process. If I cook just before dinner time I’m usually frazzled by the million other things going on at that time of the day (Miss E waking from her nap, then having her dinner, bath, bottle, bedtime story and bed, as well as Matt coming home some time in there, all in the space of an hour and a half). If I can avoid cooking at the same time, I’m sure I’m far more pleasant to be around.

I start off by cleaning any dirty dishes, clearing off benches and making sure the dishwasher is ready for a load of dirty dishes.

I then start preparing several meals at once. If I have to be in the kitchen, I make it worth my while and do as much as possible in one hit.

A few days ago I had an hour of power in the kitchen and whipped up some puree’s, some play dough, and a few freezer meals at the same time.

banana and strawberry puree 1As we get closer to the end of the week, I look through the fruits we seem to have an abundance of and make up some puree’s to freeze. This lot is a punnet of strawberries (they were cheap this week) and two bananas.

banana and strawberry puree 2and because I already have the stick mixer out, I make up some peach and apricot puree’s out of some preserved out of season fruit I had in the pantry.

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IMG_5367I freeze ready-made baby meals in a Heinz freezer tray. After 24 hours in the freezer I pop them out, and put the cubes into ziplock bags in the freezer.

In between batches of puree, I made some stir fry and rice.

stirfryIf you don’t have a rice cooker, get one. They’re pretty cheap, super simple to use and wash, and they make life much easier!

riceI made up some freezer meals, and the next day’s lunches.

stirfry 2and while waiting for the stir fry to cool, before I put it in the fridge and freezer, I made a batch of play dough as well.

playdoughThen when it was all done, I put as much as I could possibly fit in the dishwasher and set it going, then cleaned up. Apart from our good knives, anything that fits goes in our dishwasher, if it can’t go in the dishwasher, it can’t live here. I have a similar policy for clothes and the washing machine.

So that’s that. An hour of pain in the kitchen, for a few days gain 🙂

Do you have any other fabulous techniques for making cooking quick and painless?

Abby xx

Imperfect Parenting

Most of the time I feel like I’m doing a good job at this parenting thing.

Most of the time I’m the kind of parent I want to be.

And then every once in a while (yesterday afternoon), I’m the parent at the end of their tether who plonks their kid in front of the TV so they can sit on the couch and eat their McDonalds in peace.

IMG_5410She was glued to that screen! It was a little scary how mesmerised she was, but I guess it’s pretty amazing if you’re not normally allowed to watch it.

For those wondering, I managed to eat my McDonalds in peace, regretted it immediately, and even got halfway through looking through the junk mail before PlaySchool finished and I had to plug back in to the real world.

These days are numbered, for soon she’ll be wanting me to share those fries, and I think it’s best we don’t go there. We’ll see.

Abby xx

 

 

Mess free painting with baby

Miss E painted her first masterpiece!

baby painting finalWithout a big mess to clean up! Hurrah!

Here’s how we did it:

Materials

Washable kidsafe paint (I used Crayola)

Cardstock for painting on (I used paper and it fell apart once soggy)

A large resealable plastic bag (e.g. glad bag)

Sticky tape to tape to the floor (optional)

 

Before I let Miss E at the paint, I dolloped a few different colours on the page, and then carefully slid it inside the bag and sealed it up.

baby painting 1

baby painting 2Once all the paint was safely sealed inside, I put the page on the ground so Miss E could ‘smoosh’ all the paint around.

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baby painting 4

baby painting 5She had a lot of fun with this, but it was a challenge to keep it out of her mouth. Next time I’ll be taping it to the floor.

baby painting 6When all the paint has been sufficiently ‘smooshed’, carefully remove the page from inside the bag.

baby painting 7Between Miss E’s scrunching and the sogginess of the paper, I found it very difficult to take the painting out without tearing the paper. Next time we’ll use some heavier card stock.

Leave the masterpiece out to dry, and label once dried.

baby painting finalThen proudly display it on your fridge!

baby painting fridgeLots of fun and no mess!

Abby xx

 

A Busy Week

It’s been a busy week for us!

We started out with picking Matt up from the airport after a work trip on Saturday night, just in time for Father’s day the next day.

Miss E and I made this cute little card for Daddy. Idea found here.

fathers day card 1

fathers day card 2

 

(Daddy’s version doesn’t have the heart over the face!)

We spent our Father’s day visiting our Dad’s, having a picnic lunch, watching the footy (Australian rules football)  and then moving all the furniture in the house when I decided I wanted a change at 8:30pm on a Sunday night. Haha, he’s a super daddy and a very patient husband!

On Monday we took Miss E to the Royal Adelaide Show.

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I think we had more fun than Miss E did, but she really enjoyed seeing and patting the animals.

IMG_5181This might have been a nicer photo without my double chin. Ha!

She wasn’t too sure about the clowns, but was pretty happy with the pink fairy wand she won as a prize!

It feels like I’ve spent half my days saying ‘No’ on repeat. She may not be crawling yet, but she rolls EVERYWHERE and is in to EVERYTHING. We had a 20 minute argument about not touching the speaker here.

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As you can see in the picture above, with the cords hanging about, we’re still in the process of sorting out new homes for everything after I insisted on moving all the furniture around.

I worked Thursday, and Matt spent the day with Miss E, managing to slip in an IKEA trip to buy some shelves for our new play area.

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There’s a lot more work to be done in here, but we’ll get there eventually.

In the moments in-between, we’ve been enjoying all that Spring brings to our garden.

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The creek is greening up, and looking like a bit of a jungle.

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and our apricot tree is starting to blossom. I can’t wait to see all the flowers out.

and now it’s the weekend, and I’m looking forward to some couch time, reading a book, and finishing off the quilt I’m working on.

I hope you’ve all had a fabulous week too!

Abby xx

September 11

Tomorrow’s September 11th, so I thought I’d share my memories of that day.

I was 14 years old when the September 11 Terrorist attacks occurred, and though it may be almost half my life ago now, I still remember the day vividly.

I would usually still be in bed when my Mum left for work each morning, and so she would give me a kiss and wish me a good day while I was still in bed each morning, before I got up and went to school a little later. On this particular morning, she came in earlier than normal and told me that I might want to get up and see what was on TV. Confused, I walked into the lounge room to see images of planes flying into buildings playing repeatedly on the TV screen. Mum explained that it was a presumed terrorist attack, and we all just sat there, dumfounded for a few minutes, trying to take it in.

When I got to school that morning, it was all we were talking about. America might be all the way on the other side of the world from us, but we were old enough to realise that this was a big deal and talked of the possibility of another world war.

Our school held a special assembly that morning. The events were explained to us, and a candle was lit in memory of the victims. I don’t remember a whole lot more from the day, other than being aware that our teachers were as shaken as we were. I remember one teacher oversharing with us that her husband was panicking and considering taking all their money out of the bank. Probably not something she should have been sharing with high school students, but she would have been in as much shock as the rest of us.

I remember coming home from school and watching that same footage over and over again. For days it seemed like that was all there was on every TV station.

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The World Trade Centre site as we saw it in 2008.

The events of that day were horrific. The acts of those responsible – abhorrent. The efforts of emergency services – incredible.

Humankind showed it’s huge range of evil & good, weakness & strength and hate & love on that day.

We will never forget.

Abby xx

Craft projects of yesteryear – Part 1

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a craft project (or 4 or 5) on the go.

As I tidy out my spare bedroom, I’m finding some of my old craft projects, and I thought I’d share them with you.

When I was four, I would construct houses out of paper and paint anything and everything with glitter. My Nanna taught me to knit when I was five or six, and I started knitting myself a scarf which I of course never finished.

When I grew a little older, my craft of choice was cross stitch. I remember going through a stage of cross stitching bookmarks, though where they’ve all ended up now, I have no idea.

In a recent effort at tidying my spare bedroom, I found these stuffed in the bottom of a box.

cross stitch 1

cross stitch 2

cross stitch 3

I don’t remember making any of them, and I’m not sure what I planned to do with them. I love how they were all stitched into a coffee stained piece of aida cloth that I assume my Mum was planning on throwing out, before I whisked it away. I’m not sure what was going to be in that bathtub either!

A project I do remember working on was this ‘lovely’ blanket. The first blanket I ever made.

first blanketThis was my summer holiday project when I was thirteen. It was a feature on Better Homes and Gardens, and the front cover of that months magazine. I bought the magazine with the pattern in it (I was a ridiculously cool teenager. Ha!), and Mum took me out to buy the polar fleece fabric and yellow wool. I cut out the squares, blanket stitched the edges and sewed them together all in a few days.

I was so proud of that blanket. It sat on the end of my bed for years. These days it lives in the bottom of a box. It may not be pretty, or very well executed, but I’ll never throw it out!

It’s nice to look back at where you started out, and see just how far you’ve come.

I’ll share more of these gems with you as I dig them up.

Abby xx

 

Motherhood

I’m going through a Jodi Picoult stage at the moment. I’m currently reading Perfect Match and have just finished Vanishing Act. They’re a nice simple read and I always get hooked quickly, then read the whole book in a few days.

When I came across this paragraph in Vanishing Act, I had to capture it. It’s exactly right.

book quote

It made me think of those first few days after I had Miss E, when I realised that I would never again, for the rest of my life, stop worrying about this little person. The thought was so exhausting on that third baby blues day, that it made me cry.

Exhausting as all that worrying is, and will be, it’s absolutely worth it 🙂

Abby xx

 

7 Baby Play Ideas Using Everyday Objects

baby play collage

Sometimes the best toys are the everyday items that already live in your home. With a little imagination, the simplest of items can provide hours of entertainment.

Here are some of my favourite play ideas, best suited for 6 months and up.

1. Mirror Play

Sing ‘Heads & Shoulders, Knees & Toes’ with accompanying actions, first on you, and then on your baby.

Play peek-a-boo, popping your face in and out of the mirror frame.

Allow baby to explore their own reflection.

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2. Mixing Bowl Drums

This one’s fairly self explanatory. Pull out all the pots and pans for a full drum kit, and/or give baby a mixture of drum sticks to use, i.e. wooden spoon, metal spoon, plastic spatula.

It gets pretty noisy, so I wouldn’t be trying this one out when you need a quiet moment.

We now have a mixing bowl permanently in the toy box. Miss E has discovered she can put things in it and tip them out, and that if she drags it around on the ground or kicks it, it makes cool noises too.

mixing bowl drum

3. Balloon

This one’s an absolute hit! Until it pops, then it might be scary. Unless you’re Miss E, who’s not fussed by a popping balloon at all!

Balloons are great for tapping back and forth. They move slowly, allowing baby more time to get their hands in place to catch it, and if they miss and it plonks them in the face, no tears!

Also, lots of fun for Mum and Dad making hair staticky 🙂

Just be prepared to get in there quick and grab the popped balloon before it’s shoved in the mouth. We learned that lesson with our dog…

balloon

4. Ice

Playing with ice is an interesting sensory experience for baby.

We tried this out in the middle of winter, so I covered Miss E’s lap with a burp cloth to keep her dry and then let her go for it.

Add some food colouring to your water before you freeze it for added interest.

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5. Gel Bag

Grab a sealable sandwich bag, tip in some cheap hair gel and a few interesting objects (I used foam shapes and beads). Then seal it up. If you’re paranoid about hair gel going everywhere like I am, double bag it.

To stop it sliding around on your highchair tray you could either tape the sides down, or as I did, put a few drops of water on the tray to make the bag stick. As soon as Miss E starts picking the bag up and trying to put it in her mouth, it’s game over for us.

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6. Muffin Tray

Put a collection of balls, blocks, cars, toy animals or whatever you’ve got at hand in a muffin tray, and let them at it.

Baby will have fun tipping everything out, putting it back in and in Miss E’s case, kicking it repeatedly to make rattling sounds.

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7. Laundry Basket Ball Pit

Again, pretty self explanatory.

I find that Miss E often gets frustrated with her balls because they always roll away out of her reach. By containing all the balls (and the baby) in the laundry basket, all the balls are close at hand and fun to explore.

Be mindful of the sturdiness of your basket. Mine is pretty rigid, but I was concerned that if Miss E leaned back into it, she’d tip the basket, herself and all the balls over onto the floor in a spectacular fashion. So I pushed the end she was sitting at, up against the side of my couch.

Also be wary of any small holes in your basket, that little fingers, arms or legs might get stuck in.

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Who needs real toys?!?!

What other everyday items does your baby like to play with?

Abby xx

Crochet blanket: Finished!

IMG_7417Finally!

Remember way back in May when I mentioned that I’d started crocheting a baby blanket (here) and soon after realised how time consuming and expensive it would be and decided to keep it for myself?

I’ve finally finished that blanket!

It’s not perfect, but I’m okay with that, I’m sure I’ve said it before, handmade is not supposed to be perfect.

IMG_4964Here is my terrible ‘I’ve just finished it and even though it’s dark, and the light is terrible, I have to share it immediately’ photo.

book and blanketI’m not minding our chilly start to Spring so much now that I have this baby to keep me warm while I’m reading.

For some reason, I cannot recall it now, I decided to crochet this blanket using two strands at a time. This made it double the weight and double the cost, but also doubly warm and cuddly.

folded blanket

blanketNow that it’s finished. I’m happy to put away the crochet hook until next winter.

Miss E enjoyed the time I took taking these photos. It was a great opportunity to catch up with the incredibly good looking baby that lives in our walk-in-robe mirror. Hehe.
IMG_5016On to the next project! Sewing this time 🙂

Abby xx