Saturday, 19 December 2009

last minute gift (1)

I decided, at the very last minute, that I needed another small gift for a very special little girl cousin. So I grabbed my copy of 'More Softies' for inspiration and whipped up this little owl pillow/softie. I based it on a pattern in the book but as it was for a little one, I appliqued rather than hand sewed all the features (of course I appliqued - what else would I do?) I didn't use buttons or any bits that could be pulled off and eaten and I made it larger than the version in the book. I also added more substantial feet. I used some lovely linen from my stash, as well as some Amy Butler decorator weight fabric and some quilting cottons.

I drew up an owl pattern some time back but I needed to make one a little faster than that. This little one took about 40 minutes from start to end, including the hand embroidery and finishing.

And the best news is that when we left her with it today, she was pretending to sleep, resting her sweet little head on it. Perfect.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

a little bit Christmasy...

It's starting to look a little bit like Christmas here at the Blue House. Still more to do but getting there, one fruit mince tart at a time...

Edith the Elf - completed Christmas stocking for Minnie

Gingerbread and Bauble Christmas garland from here

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Edith the Helpful Elf - a free pattern

As it is the First day of December I thought it was time to get the Christmas craft ball rolling. Minnie is very excited about Christmas this year, which in turn has made the Blue House feel a little Christmas crazy - its hard not to get drawn into the high excitement and anticipation oozed by an almost 4 year old.

So to start the festive season off, here is Edith the Helpful Elf.

Edith is one of the little grandy and baa girls that is all dressed up as a very helpful elf. As you will see she is hand drawn so this is perhaps more of an idea or guide than an actual precise pattern. I think little Edith would look lovely as an applique or an embroidery. I will return later this week to show you my finished Ethel, who will be gracing Minnie's new Christmas stocking.

Edith the Helpful Little Elf

Please let me know if you are unable to print or download the PDF (I am trying Scribd for the first time on here). It should be fairly simple to print the PDF or to follow the link to the Scribd page to view and print from there. I would be more than happy to email you the design as a PDF or a word document.

I am really looking forward to seeing all the wonderful Christmas creations from around the blogging traps. How can this time of the year not be contagious?


Wednesday, 18 November 2009

the big trip north (2)

This had been the long awaited break. The break that my little family really needed. Sometime away, just the three of us, without a mad dog or a demanding cat. Its been a busy time here with Steve off abroad on a regular basis so some sun and sand was appealing for all. We set off early Sunday morning planning to drive to Coffs Harbour for the night, before continuing on to the Sunshine Coast in QLD. As we have started off early, we hadn't read the papers or been able to listen to the news due to the Minnie Mix-Tape (CD) in the car. So like all the techo-hipsters, I got out the iPhone and read the ABC news on-line. The headline read something like;

'Coffs region declared natural disaster zone'

I can't remember the last time we laughed so much. Not at the floods and the people isolated and stranded, but at us. Our first little holiday in what seamed like years and we were heading into a flooded natural disaster zone.

Travel Tip 1: Arm yourself with an iPhone or similar 3G device. You may need to know what you are heading into.

And it rained. It rained all the way to Coffs and beyond. Given that there was no chance of a sunny afternoon on the beach, we drove on to Grafton for our first night. We finally found a motel that was neat and clean the staff were friendly after a bit more time on the iPhone.

Tip for those in the Tourism business: When a potential guest asks to see one of your motel rooms, don't look like they have asked for one of your kidneys and don't speak to them like they are children. If you do, they will go to the next motel and spend their money there.

Travel Tip 2: Lovely old country pubs do not open for dinner on a Sunday evening in Grafton. Not a single one. But the noodle shop does.

On this trip we were constantly impressed by how well Minnie travelled, sometimes for long stretches in the car. After thinking it would have been the road trip from hell, we are now planning a journey to Far North Queensland...

More later on the rest of this little holiday.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

the big trip north (1)

We arrived back today from 8 days away from the Blue House. 8 days and about 2,500km's of driving. We headed to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland for a week of sun and sea. Not quite as much sun and sea as we would have hoped. But more on the weather and natural disaster areas after I have finished unpacking...

Thursday, 5 November 2009


that we had some of these in the garden! Henny Penny recently visited Minnie's preschool and flapped around, sitting on the children's laps and having a lovely time. We would love to have hens here at the Blue House but I think the mad Golden Retriever/cute little Hen mix is not a good one. I think any additions to this family need to wait until the dog has calmed down (please, let this happen) and until we have built a super hen house.
My parents have always had chickens so we grew up with hen friends, bright yellow yolks and lots of egg based puddings - I still love a good baked custard. And baked rice pudding, Pavlovas and creme caramel... And french toast, quiche and home made ice-cream (I think our home made vanilla ice-cream is almost the best thing in the world).

Hats off to those hens that make this endless indulgence possible. What would we do without you?

Thursday, 15 October 2009

right now

I know Soule Mama writes these lists, as does my friend Jessica, so I am borrowing from them - I don't think they will mind. Here is my right now list. Right now for this day as we all know that tomorrow is another day...

Right now I am;

watching - well waiting for Saturday night for 'The Bill' - all slick and smick in its new format

smelling - the jasmine from our garden

reading - anything about China

enjoying - the sunshine, when we are lucky enough to get some

- to Minnie's compilation car CD that include tracks by The Cure, Joan Armatrading,
Jai Laga'aia, Van Hallen, Playschool and Run DMC...

making - lots of collages with Minnie - we need PVA in bucket size containers

sewing - not nearly enough

drinking - Bickfords Lime Juice Cordial

wanting - to have dinner at Rick Stein's new restaurant

embracing - (literally) Minnie and Steve at every opportunity I get.

What are you doing right now?

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

the lounge room

The lounge room at the Blue House is perhaps the smallest lounge room in the world. Well not quite but very tiny. It reminds me of living in our flat in London, huddled near the radiator, hot tea in hand, rug on our laps. Its that kind of room. Perfect for winters and chilly evenings as it heats up in a few minutes. But its small. Only about 4m by 4m. Its full with the people of the house in here, then add the great Molly and Daisy the cat and its almost bursting at the seams.

But in its defence, this room is also perfect for balmy nights as the french doors open onto the veranda that looks out to the lake and sea. People and pets can spill out onto the veranda making the room feel somewhat larger. In the grand renovation plans this room with become another bedroom and a huge new living space will be added at the back of the house, off the kitchen (with is vast when compared to this little lounge room). The lucky person who gets this room with the french doors and the sea views...

A room this small gets tired and boring quite quickly so this weekend we changed the curtains and the cushion covers. All white curtains add a sense of space to the room and the black and white (and green) cushion covers are fresh and new and a bit grown up. I didn't sew the cushions covers as the lovely people at IKEA saved me the job. They are so kind, those people.

As they say, a change is as good as a holiday. I am feeling more relaxed already...

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Molly - big, yellow fluffy trouble

Molly, photo byMinnie

Oh boy. That dog. That great big fluffy yellow cyclone. She is mad, stark raving mad. If you ever call at the blue house, on the phone or in person, you will hear the following;

'What has she got NOW?'

You see Molly is a handful. 24kgs of trouble. Oh, yes she looks all sweet with those big brown sad eyes and that cute face. But, in her veins pumps 100% naughtiness. Her trouble is that is she takes things. Mostly she just takes them out to the yard to her 'nest' - the spot near the clothesline that is littered with the remains of her hourly offerings to the 'dog gods'.
Molly takes the cloths from the sink, the mail from the table, the hairbrushes, toothbrushes and plugs. She takes our underpants, our socks, her blankets, our blankets, our clothes and of course our shoes. She takes the remote controls and DVDS and books and adds them to her nest. She eats the paper items and chews the rest.

Everyday she steals things. Recently I left her in while we popped out to the shops. I accidentally left the hall doors open so instead of only being in the kitchen and back hall, she had the run of the entire house. When I came home, it looked like there had been a burglary. She had taken my little bag of bits that I move between different handbags and this is what she ate;

1 pkt Buttermenthols - eaten

1 tin of extra strong mints - eaten

5 tampons - chewed up

2 pads - chewed up

2 permanent markers - destroyed

1 hair slide, eaten

2 hair clips, destroyed

And one balloon pump, destroyed, a pile of Minnie's art work, a toothbrush, one tube of toothpaste and a packet of biscuits. Last week, she ate Minnie's bike helmet, 2 bags and my hand written recipe book.

And she brings us things - whenever we come home or wake up or enter a room she brings us something really special to show us how much she love us. Its usually soggy paper or knickers or a tea towel or a shoe. We pat her head and tell her 'good girl' and she looks all clever and happy with her self. Molly even takes things to the cat every time she sees her - the cat thinks the dog is mental. Then Molly goes and does something really 'cute' like eat my glasses (oh, yes - my actual glasses, the ones I have for seeing).

You know what? Even when I am often heard saying 'That bloody dog,' we do all love her.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

the clocks didn't stop...

This past year has been a difficult time for us all in the Blue House. That's the simple truth. It may not always look like that here.

Last week was the anniversary of the birth and death of our sweet, precious daughter Alice Buttons. In this surreal year, the year in which the clocks didn't stop, time has rolled on. The rawness of the loss is now fading but, the underlying pain and sadness will always be there, somewhere not too far under the surface.

Some people, some wonderful people remembered Alice's birthday. Cards and flowers, emails and the most wonderful gifts. And the most touching thing was that some of these were from people who I have never met in the 'real world.' They were from the sweet people that I meet through blogging, people that I now call friends. Friends that I will have for many, many years to come.

Monday, 7 September 2009


I am back. The flu's and colds seem to be easing and hopefully will not be back this way for a decade or two.

Something new for the shop. A little late for our cooler months but, still sweet on a chilly spring morning.

Monday, 24 August 2009

friday - fabulous etsy finds

'Rima' by tushtush

I know its not Friday but, my little series about the Blue House was missing the last day. 'Friday - Flu' would have been a much better title as I have some evil lurgy thing. Perhaps not flu but, a very mean cold that has left me speechless. Not in that sexy, deep voiced way that some men find irresistible but, more in the all over the place squeaky screech that sounds like a teenage boy.

So some new Etsy finds today. And two of them are on their way to the Blue House as we speak - jetting across the world from far away places. The print above ('Rima') and the one below, 'Poland.' Sent from a very, very talented woman. I found Tali of tushtush when I was wandering through one blog, then another, then another. Tali is a student studying in her final year at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. I think you will agree, Tali has a big future in front of her. I know I will be back for more...

'Naomi' by tushtush

Monday, 17 August 2009

thursday - treasures

A couple of treasures from the Blue House. Some treasures other than the most important two treasures in my world...
The two gentlemen (L&H) below belonged to my grandparents, Joan and Basil. When they died, we were all allowed to choose something from their estate. This was my choice. Entirely a sentimental choice.

When I lived in London, I missed those guys as they had stayed safely behind in Australia. So to make myself feel a little more at home, I bought the little men below from a wonderful antique and curios shop in the East End of London where I lived.

The shop was wonderful - you know the type, packed to the ceiling with the most random yet amazing collection of wares. Amongst the treasure I found an antique set of luggage - 5 or so hard cases in a gorgeous faded yellow canvas with leather trim. From memory there was a hat box, cases in several sizes and a steamer trunk that stood upright and opened into a little wardrobe and dressing table. Oh how I loved it. I ummed and arred and thought about the cost to eventually ship it home. I went back an forth many times to the shop. Then I finally decided to buy it only to find that it had be snapped up by a set designer for a period film. Never, ever turn your back on a find like that.

Below are of some of my collection of lacquered boxes. I got my first one when I was about 8 and over the years have slowly added to the collection. When I lived overseas, my mum would buy one for my birthday's and Christmas' and when I returned she presented me with a parcel filled with lacquered boxes.

And some of my costume jewellery. I love how they sparkle and shine and I used to wear them often. Now there is a battle with a certain 3 year old over who gets to wear them. Given they have very large sharp pins on the back, they are staying out of circulation for a while.

Thank you for all your comments about our walls - very kind of you. And I tell you, they are so educational. I am really coming to grips with world weather patterns, rare stamps and the life and times of Ptolemy.

(And yes, I am many days behind but who could blog when the weather was so glorious here over the weekend).

Thursday, 13 August 2009

wednesday - walls

Some walls from the Blue House for you today. Let me tell you that there is lots of work to be done on our walls. Some need new plasterboard, some need riping out, some need to be finished (um, I went mad with the undercoating but have kinda not gotten back to them - at least they look like something is about to happen).

This old house needs a lot of work, like the extension I have planned so perfectly in my mind. My husband and my sweet friend G get to hear about it, all the time. I know that one day it will happen. Just need lotsa cashola!

So here are a couple of walls that have had something done to them.

The before shot.

And the after shots.

The above wall is small section of the hallway outside Minnie's room, opposite the lounge room and at the entry to the kitchen (if that makes sense). I have been looking at this wall now for a long time as sofa is on the other side of the lounge room, looking out into the hallway. I have long planned to wallpaper it. I found the perfect wallpaper on the online auction site but missed the end of the auction. Bum. So I moved on to my second plan.

I used some vintage children's encyclopedia's and atlas' that I picked up at the local op shop for 50cents each. And some wall paper paste that was $14.95 at a big hardware store (I only used about $2.00 worth on this project). Tearing out the pages of these old books was actually a little traumatic - as the daughter of an antique book collector, I felt very bad destroying them.

I washed the walls with sugar soap, let them dry and made up the paste. I simply applied the paste to the back of the pages with a paint brush, let it soak in for a minute or two and them stuck the pages to the wall. Although they looked a little bumpy, I smoothed them the best I could. It dried beautifully - all smooth and no air bubbles. If you are thinking of a similar project, keep in mind that some print may run in old books. Apply the sheets gently to the wall, without rubbing too much and you should be OK. I did this yesterday and it only took an 2 hours, which I think half of this time was spent reading the pages I was ripping out.

Last night a lot of time was spent reading the walls - I now know a lot about transportation in Brazil and cloud formation...

The next photo is a wall in our kitchen/dinning room. Its a big old country kitchen that once had a rather large wood fired oven. It looks like it was removed many years ago and the space has been boarded in to form a little nook. This was perfect for my cooking books. And I love blackboards and thought I needed one right here. Its great for Minnie to scribble on while I am getting dinner ready. I put the weekly menu up there so I we all know what we are having and it's often covered in times - times that I put things in the oven and the time they are due out. I do know there are oven timers for such things...

It was another inexpensive project - the blackboard paint was only about $10.00 and is enough for quite a few projects.

And this is a photo of the lovely shadows that are cast on our bedroom wall each morning. If only it was there all day - another project perhaps?

PS - I do realise I am one day behind - it would not be me if I was organised and on time...

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

tuesday - tea cups

Somewhat inspired by this lovely post from this lovely blogger, I thought I would share some of my tea cups with you. There are many in the Blue House - these is just a few that I really love.

I especially love these little tiny ones.

Monday, 10 August 2009

monday - minnie's room

This week I thought I would blog along the theme of 'our house.' Is that just being really lazy, showing you a few snaps of the Blue House? I think perhaps in my case it is. Anyway, here are a couple of shots of Minnie's room. Look at that un-ironed doona cover! What a house keeper I am! You may also notice that you are only seeing a very small part of the room. Although it's a big room, the play/reading/book shelves corners were a little too messy on this day so that bit will come later.

I decorated my very, very cheap lamp on Minnie's bedside table by drawing on the lamp shade and gluing and fusing on fabric and buttons. You may recognise these little girls from my dresses and tee-shirts. The bedside table is a very old White Oil box that my father restored for me when I was a young girl. And Minnie's yellow bed is a antique iron bed that I found on eBay, winning the auction for $1.00 (but the lovely lady would not except the $1.00 or the $10.00 I was trying to give her). We built the slats that fit on this bed from a bed base that I found out on the roadside ready for Council pick up. So a pretty inexpensive bed!

And that little fluffy on the bedside table - that's my husbands toy he had as a baby.

Now I will try and tidy the rest of that room...