Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Melee

Well I'm still not entirely sure why I braved the big shopping centre this morning (probably because I had to as I can't think of any other reason!) being the last Saturday before Christmas almost everyone in a 20km radius also felt the need to go there............I'm not sure if it's because I am getting older and crankier or just society is changing, but people are so rude this time of year. Honestly I'm not sure if it's the heat or just that Christmas seems to bring out the worst in people instead of the best?

Whilst I was out DS got to help put up and decorate our Christmas tree, so he is in raptures over that and keeps wrapping everything in sight up in pieces of paper and reams or sticky tape to put under it (I don't think he'll have much Lego left by Christmas Day as it'll all be wrapped up under the tree - we don't tend to put the presents under the tree until after he goes to bed on Christmas Eve as it's just too tempting for a 3yo to have enticing gifts left out and not be able to open them).

Stamping wise I have two things to share with you, one was done recently as a swap and I wanted to try something new as I had seen this tutorial online by Jan Tink and I wanted to see how challenging it was. Turns out it was pretty simple! I used one of the stamp sets from the new summer catalogue Hello Again, but I didn't have the circle sissors (yet!) so I didn't get the double circle effect on the front which I think would have made it look better, but never mind I can always re-make it later!  You can see inside the card - the Retro Remix wheel is so nice - I did see it coloured individually with markers and then wheeled on a blog recently and the overall effect was stunning, although no doubt time consuming - I've added it to my to try list!

Last night I was also playing around with some left over bits from my I Wish Simply Scrappin' kit, after making my I Wish album and came up with this 6"x6" of my DS first Christmas - did I mention he loves opening presents!!!

Can you tell I am still getting used to scrapbooking and am working my way up to doing 12"x12" layouts....but more on that another post. Am I the only one with a to do/try list that is a million miles long or is it just a sign of being creative, I have never yet been able to truly understand people who say they are bored *grin*

Yesterday also saw me making more fruit leather in our food dehydrator, basically it's just a case of blending up cooked apple, passionfruit from our garden (those are the black bits), a drained tin of peaches ($2 on sale for 850g Australian grown fruit) and then spreading it over the sheets and drying it down.

With the PV panels the electricity cost of this is negligible and the entire ingredients and power etc costs approximately $10 per kg of dried fruit - a bit cheaper and healthier than the store bought $4 for 90g and most of it is wheat/maze bulking agents and only has 25-30% real fruit - mine is 99% real fruit and 1% sugar. I've also used strawberries from the garden, bananas and basically whatever left over fruit or fruit that is cheap that is around, although I do find having about 40% apple gievs it a nice smooth texture. The sheets are taken off the dryer, rolled into logs and wrapped in plastic film (if anyone can think of an alternative to plastic for this please let me know!) and stored in an airtight container for up to 6 weeks - although rarely does it make 3 weeks in our house......

Thursday, December 17, 2009

SU creations, sale & stamp club

I've been fairly busy of late with my Stampin' Up! and have run 3 classes now from home, plus demo'd at a couple of parties & so far the feedback has been good (either that or I have really polite friends!!!). A popular one has been the scrapbook album made with the I Wish Simply Scrappin kit which makes a lovely record for Christmas or as  a gift for loved ones.

The original design has been done by a very talented Canadian lady, Andrea Walford, and would look equally stunning with any of the Simply Scrappin kits depending upon the occassion e.g. a baby album or a wedding etc. What is also awesome is that it can be done as a complete class by mail and as there is no stamping required it just requires some time and patience which will definitely be rewarded! I am thinking of using a few other of her designs as I am still new to teaching scrapbooking and I really felt this showcased the product far better than I would have thought of doing!

The 4x2 Christmas class was popular making 2 cards, 2 decorated envelopes, 2 3D items and this month instead of 2 tags we made one tag and one bag topper for reindeer poop (read chocolate coated fruit & nut in a medium  size SU cellophane bag). In January this class will have a Summer theme to it and the stamp a stack (6 cards) is a masculine theme, for details go to my class timetable here.

I have also been making up some lipbalm holders as gifts for day care carers which make a nice change for the girls from chocolates! The original design was made by Renee Ondraka and I modified it to fit the Australian "standard" size lipbalm tubes

This week has also heralded the first ever SU stamp clearance sale - yes they are clearing out all of the old non-die cut rubber stock, so for a limited time you can get up to 50% off some stamp sets and also listed in the sale are some lovely accessory items as well, you can see the full list here (ohh my goodness I think I have finally learnt to hyperlink!) and if you would like anything, then please just leave me a request in the comments section and I will answer (and not publish your comment to protect your privacy).

I am in the process of putting together a stamp club for SU for 2010 which is a $30 per month commitment for 10 months, a free class each month and one of the 10 months you get to hostess and get all of the benefits from that - if you are interested I can email you the full benefits, again just leave me a request in the comments section and I will answer (and not publish your comment to protect your privacy).

Okay it's now late and I've raved on enough about SU for the minute - but I am having fun stamping again after such a long break having DS and as I always say stamps & paper etc is still cheaper than therapy!!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009


Not Christmas crackers or bon bons, but plain old savoury crackers. With the nice warm weather we have been having we are eating more finger foods of late and the easiest, yummiest and cheapest dip I know how to make is by adding half a packet of french onion soup mix to a 500g tub of sour cream, stir and let sit to thicken for at least an hour before serving up. Anyway I went to buy some crackers the other day at the supermarket for the dip and my goodness what a challenge that is these days when I am trying to purchase almost all Australian made foods (excepting some spices and the like) most I found were made in China or Italy, or Australian owned but manufactured overseas or manufactured in Australia with imported products - honestly how hard can it be to get plain old crackers! After almost 15 minutes examining the labels of packets and narrowing my selection down to two brands, one got discounted as it contained a food colouring 150c (caramel) which my DS reacts to and he has enough energy at the best of times before giving him something which will send him absolutely hyperactive for a +10 hour stint. I've been doing this with different food items for quite a while - trying to purchase local produce or at the very least Australian grown & manufactured products, it started a couple of years ago when I first started reading about food miles and then the 100 mile diet, but also about the issues associated with disruptions to the food supply chain by political or climate change factors in cities and countries where they rely heavily upon imported food sources means we really should be taking an example from somewhere like Havana not bulldozing our own producing regions to build yet more houses and importing product from overseas. Imported product which might not necessarily be treated with the same standard of chemicals and fertilisers as we have in our own country. One example earlier this year that really annoyed me was that Australia now imports 22% of the apples consumed here - which is nuts when so many of our orchards are being bulldozed and family farms are being lost to bankruptcy as they can't get buyers for the produce. This coupled with the fact that the imported apples possible contain over 18 known pests and/or diseases that are currently not in our country further jepardises the shrinking local markets that we currently have. Don't get me wrong I understand that trade is good for the economy and brings in jobs and much needed income and skills as well as helping us develop culturally, but at what cost to our own children's futures - their jobs, health, environmental damage. Maybe limiting the importation of staple food items is an option? Or educating consumers about the sources of the produce they are eating - I am loving the tickets on food that were introduced a year or so ago in major supermarkets in the fresh produce/deli sections as now you can see where things come from and interestingly how one supermarket chain suddenly started promoting that they were selling Australian garlic not irradiated imported stuff or the Australian grown baby sweetcorn rather than the stuff imported from overseas as not exactly fresh! I guess time will tell...................

Creatively here are a couple fo things to share. The first is a very lovely and simple candy cane treat made by the very talented Charmaine (my SU upline) - how simple but lovely is that? Well I thought it was pretty darn nice, especially as she made one for me as a gift *grin* I made the stocking box, which was adapted from a template from a canadian SU demonstrator, Andrea Walford,  that made a flat stocking gift card holder and I CASEd (copy and share with everyone) the idea from Charmaine who made it into a box - albeit a much nicer one than mine, but I still liked mine too! If you'd like to see more of Charmaine's works then check out her blog (one day I'll learn how to embed a link into a word instead of cutting and pasting hyperlinks!!!!)

On a soapy front, I think I have finished most of the Christmas orders now (?) and even got to have fun making some large cupcakes that were all pink and sparkly for a friend (very girly!!) unfortunately my photography is a lot like my computer skills, more functional than flashy and the glitter doesn't really show up well in the photo as being really sparkly - it was a silver rainbow glitter (bodysafe) that I used and it looks 100 times better in real life than in the photo below! Okay back to the kitchen for me - I'm making yummy little meringues for the playgroup party tomorrow, last week I made marshmallow candy canes for the toddler group party and they went down pretty quick too!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Eye Candy

Rather than have you popping all over the place - it would probably be better if I just put the images below for you to see (not sure what I was thinking at midnight last night!). Here's some of the reindeer supplies I made for the market the left here is the reindeer food & below is the snowman soup (a friend suggested popping this into a mug as a complete gift rather than just a stockingsutffer, cool idea!), reindeer poop & Rudolph spares. I only had red & green glitter for the reindeer food, but silver would have been nice or gold as well - anything to make it sparkle really!

Where does the time go?

Wow okay I know I've had a lot on my plate, but seriously where does the time go these days, it's only 3 weeks until Christmas and I have been busy teaching Christmas card classes, but haven't made any myself yet to send to family and friends - might be my e-newsletter again this year! Which people commented that they enjoyed reading and it had lots of photos etc in it and of course didn't consume paper or fuel miles to deliver it to everyone, but it is still nice to receive "snail" mail sometimes so we'll see how I go over the next week or so time wise!

The bubble blog candy went to Julie who guessed closest to the actual weight of 179g that 5 of the guest soaps came in at - since it's been a long time since I posted and I'm feeling bad about the delay, so you can swap the guest soaps for a festive squirter duck on a pond (see above) or a body scrub tub as a prize instead. I ended up making over 260 of the Breast Cancer fundraising soaps, about 200 more than I ever envisaged and have expressions of interest for over 350 already for the same time next year! Fortunately for my sanity I've moved onto puzzle soaps, the squirter ducks on a pond (above), soapsicles, soap cupcakes and sugar body scrubs (currently for the later I've made peppermint = great for foot scrubs, chcoolate and pearberry, both of which are divine to use) so am getting some variety - for pictures of all go to my MadeIt store. I had my very first market stall this weekend at a belly dancing end of term exhibition and it was a lot of fun, a nice learning experience which will no doubt help in the new year for me doing more markets. The reindeer poop and Rudolph's spares went down well with the children, but then again who doesn't love chocolate?? For the poems & photos of these and snowman soup & reindeer food they are listed on my Stampin' Up! website under the projects/ideas section. The reindeer food we also did at my son's toddler group and the children loved it and he can't wait for Christmas Eve to feed the reindeers!

Our garden is starting to be quite productive, we're pickign raspberries, green beans, cherry tomatoes, carrots, strawberries and a few other things as well. The sand remedy (aka bentonite clay) which we bought from a local supplier Vital Organics (who did free delivery to your door and have brilliant customer service) when combined with the compost seems to be helping with water retention in the soil, even with the hot days we've been having of late. Although no doubt the few extra buckets of grey water from the laundry and our son's bath don't go astray, it's one of those little bit of effort activities for bigger results in the garden and a small reduction in our global footprint. We were of course also very fortunate recently to receive 5 large bags of sheep poo from a friend who lives on a farm, sadly not everyone gets as excited about sheep poo as we do, but it's wonderful fertiliser for the garden and unlike the chemical versions a lot less impactive on our waterways and is of course recycling a waste product!

We recently discovered our local landfill facility has a recycle shop that is open on weekends and is a treasure trove of really cool items at super chepa prices. We went to get paving bricks to do more garden paths (and a few extra for DS to play with), but we also found amidst other items a terrific stainless steel sink that DH has installed outside near the garden tap for washing the leaf and root vegetables prior to bringing them into the house and the water from that is also easily recycled back onto the garden. They are all small things that in the grand scheme don't seem to have much effect, but multiplied over thousands and possibly millions of households globally they have a massive impact!

Anyway it's late, so I am calling it a night, hopefully it won't be as long between posts this time!