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21  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / Meritorious Service Award in the Pursuit of Falling Stars (& other shiny medals) on: May 08, 2011 06:22:20 PM

Made these medals for my daughter.  It's a quick, easy way to use up a bunch of little bits and pieces from the craft stash.  There are beads, ribbon, felt scraps, safety pins, bits of chain, a few random pendants form junk jewellery... you could just about anything.  I think some big brass buttons would look smashing.  I stitched these together but glue would work just as well.     

22  CLOTHING / Clothing for Kids: Completed Projects / Lacey Legs (with link to pattern) on: April 03, 2011 07:01:52 AM

Throwback to the 80's, maybe, but still they look adorable on Miss Baby!  They are quick and easy to sew, which (for me at least) is very important with a ratbag little one running around causing havoc. 

I used stretchy lace that I bought at Spotlight; it has a nice flowery pattern and they have it in a whole bunch of colours.

If you'd like the pattern it's available here http://www.summerfaire.com/2011/04/lacey-legs.html in size 0 to 1.  The tights will work fine with disposable or new cloth nappies.  I don't know how well they'd work with old school cloth nappies though.
23  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Buttercream in high humidity WITHOUT Crisco on: March 24, 2011 03:38:58 PM
Hi all,

I've been looking for a recipe for a tasty buttercream that will stand up to a hot, humid day... which is pretty much most days between October and April here... but a recipe without Crisco or other solid vegetable shortening.  We can't get it here, and I don't like the greasy aftertaste anyway.   

I have heard rumors that adding cream of tartar helps to stabilize buttercream. 

Any ideas?   
24  CLOTHING / Costumes: Completed Projects / Real Pirates wear Eyeliner! on: March 03, 2011 03:17:21 PM

There's a big shindig on at Hubby's work today and everyone's dressing up.  He decided he wanted to be Johhny Depp Jack Sparrow, so I've been sewing for two days to get this all together.  I made the headscarf wig, shirt, waistcoat, pants, sash and boots.  The belts I picked up at a Lifeline shop.

I don't sew many men's clothes so I played it safe and used a pattern; Simplicity 4923 which you can find here: http://www.simplicity.com/p-2198-men-costumes.aspx .  I was very happy with the pattern;  some of the instructions were a little confusing but it came together well.  Sizing was pretty accurate too.  The trousers were a surprise - hello, weird flappy front closure - and took some convincing, but he eventually went with it.  I modified the shirt with a pointy collar instead of the standing collar, and added some loops so he could lace up the front; he didn't fancy showing off his chest all day long.

The boots are a pair of men's slippers with some stretchy, fake suede sewn on top.  First I pinned on some interfacing to make a pattern of the shoe top, then cut that out of the fabric and hot glued it on.  Then I measured his leg, made a pattern for the boot top, and then sewed that to the covered shoe.  I ran out of time to make the big bell tops that Jack wears, so he's just gonna have to live with boring pirate boots.  Sorry, honey.

The sash was 1/2 a metre of upholstery ticking.  I cut it in half lengthways, sewed it together in one long piece, and then down the sides to keep the threads in place.  Then I fringed 15 cms at each end.  It took ages but looks cool.  The bottons were very shiny and distracting when I bought them so I had to rub in some black paint to give them a more aged look.

Every store we went to had run out of dreadlock wigs except those with bright beannies attached.  I cut the dreds off and sewed them to the inside of a piece of fabric which was knotted around his head.  Add some beads and coins and there's a quick Jack wig!  It was kind of fun, actually.  The dreds were soft and woolly with a foam core... nothing like the real thing!   

The eyeliner was hilarious - he watered and teared up and kept making faces, so it was hard to actually get the stuff on his face and not IN his eyes.  He now thinks all girls are mental.  (Maybe I'll wax his legs one day and give him a real lesson in femininity?)  I had to smudge it with a wet cotton ball because of all the fussing, but in the end he liked the results.  I rather like it myself Cheesy

25  CLOTHING / Clothing for Kids: Completed Projects / Arabian Nights Bolero (with link to pattern) on: January 30, 2011 08:02:29 PM

This is pure frippery, but gosh it's fun. 

Extra full gathered sleeves with a curved hem that sits high in front and drops to the waist in the back.  I used the scallop stitch on my machine to finish the edges and finish all the seams too, so it's just as pretty inside as out. 

Drafted this one myself and I'm pretty happy with how things turned out.  If you'd like to try making it yourself, the pattern is available (freebie!) here: http://www.summerfaire.com/2011/01/inspiration-1001-arabian-nights.html

26  COOKING / Dessert / Dragonfruit & Lime Cheesecake (with recipe) on: January 07, 2011 04:47:18 AM

This is dragonfruit.  It comes from a cactus, which is too cool for words.

When you cut it open this is what you find:

Brilliant fuscia-pink flesh peppered with tiny black seeds.  There is a white fleshed variety but I like this one better.  The skin peels off like a banana.  You can eat the flesh as is; it's best chilled.  The flavour is subtle but refreshing.  Add some lime and suddenly it's tropical, fruity and delicious!

After trying a dragonfruit sorbet and then a salad, it was time to get to the serious stuff: cheesecake.  The flavours work together so well and the finished cheesecake was flirty with those jewel colours and so light and tempting... oh I could eat a lot of this stuff.  Here's the recipe...

Dragonfruit and Lime Cheesecake

1 biscuit base (cookie crumb pie shell)
1 cup cream
1 tub cream cheese, 250g/8oz, softened.  It MUST be soft or the cheesecake tastes weird and is lumpy.
1 cup icing sugar (confectioner's sugar/powdered sugar)
1 dragonfruit
2 limes
1 tsp gelatin
4 tbs water

Beat cream until softly whipped - it should be thick and luscious but NOT stiff.
Beat cream cheese until smooth.  Add whipped cream and icing sugar, beat until smooth.  Add the finely grated zest of 1 lime and mix.
Pour into pie shell and chill to set, at least half an hour.

Juice the limes and set aside.
Put water in a small, microwavable dish and sprinkle over the gelatin.  Leave for a few minutes to get spongy.
Peel dragonfruit; push flesh through a sieve with the back of a spoon to crush out as much juice as possible.  You can also place the mashed flesh in a cheesecloth or clean, new chux and wring out the juice.  Mix a spoonful of the seeds back into the juice (it's prettier).
Microwave the gelatine for 10 seconds; it should turn to liquid.  Mix the gelatin and juices. 
Carefully pour over the cheesecake mixture and chill.

Chill several hours; overnight is better.  The longer you chill it, the better the flavour.

Handy tip:  For maximum juice, use limes that are at room temperature and roll them on the kitchen bench with your palm before cutting and juicing.

I made a dozen mini cheesecakes in a friand pan; the bases came apart a bit but they were delicious anyway!

Do any of you have dragonfruit recipes to share?
27  CLOTHING / Clothing for Kids: Completed Projects / From the Royal Couturier to Her Majesty the Queen of Messy Rooms on: December 31, 2010 06:02:18 PM

A Christmas gift for my daughter.  I try to make the girls something special every year, because what's the point of all the crafting and sewing if not to make my family smile? 

The silver fabric had been stashed in a box for about seven years, from which I had intended to make a dress for myself.  Finally I decided I was never going to make that dress, and even if I did I'd never wear it, so I made something for my oldest daughter instead.  Of course she wears it all the time, and calls it her 'prancing' dress Cheesy

The skirt is silver charmeuse with a split overskirt of silver... well, I have no idea what it is, but it's all synthetic.  I added a few beads here and there to the front edges of the overskirt.  The bodice is white satin with rows of gathered silver stuff.  Rather than hemming, which would have been a bit bulky for the bodice, I singed the edges of the ruffles.  The neckline is bound with silver ribbon.  The puffed sleeves are white satin, bound in silver ribbon, with pearl trim.  The oversleeves are the silver stuff with a single pinched pleat.  The dress closes with seven pearly-white buttons at the back.  All the beading, etc. is done by hand, which is why it's so messy!


I make so many clothes for her that I didn't need to use a pattern, but I did match up measurements with one of her existing dresses just to make sure everything would fit. 

28  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Hobbits in the House on: October 03, 2010 03:26:55 AM
I had a dull corner in the bedroom that needed brightening up so I made this little bit of fancy... it's me and my husband as hobbits, sitting under the party tree. (Long story; suffice it to say we're both short, I have weird feet, and we live in the country.)  The text is the description of Gandalf's fireworks at Bilbo's party.  It was worded so prettily that I couldn't help but use it.  Watercolour pencils, a HB and some brown ink are all I used; I don't do much in the way of painting so it's a bit rough, but it was fun to make.  Do watercolour pencils even qualify as painting or is it really just wet colouring in?

29  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Party Planning / Tea Party for Three Little Ladies on: October 02, 2010 03:28:45 AM
We had a little tea party for miss birthday girl with two friends, just a small treat, but lots of fun.

A few plastic dishes lined with tissue paper and doilies held all the goodies.  We gave each girl a small gift bag with a decorated pen, notebook, bottle of bath salts, a tiny lipgloss and a bracelet.  I used a mix of hand made and purchased, but each of these small items could be crafted easily.

The centrepiece is an old, broken candelabra decorated with fake flowers (attached with bluetac), butterflies and dangly, sparkling christmas decorations.

Flags are made from scrapbook paper (30cmx30cm), glued back to back, holes punched in the top and threaded onto kitchen string.   

The cake - vanilla buttercream with pearl dusting powder.  I had piped half a dozen buttercream roses but the humidity destroyed them Sad  I had to scrape them off and pipe this at the last minute.  The cake is actually quite small, about 15cm across.

To drink we gave the girls sugar-free lemonade tinted with a drop of food colouring.  For sugar-free it was actually nice, no nasty fake sweetner aftertaste.  The girls certainly liked it, and I certainly liked not having to chase super hyped kids. 

We didn't send out invitations or anytthing but I think a calling card with a silhouette of a girl in a party dress would have been nice, with some fancy creative writing... "Miss P requests the pleasure of your company for morning tea.....etc., etc."  One to keep in mind for next time, I think.

30  CLOTHING / Clothing for Kids: Completed Projects / Pretty Pleats! on: May 30, 2010 03:39:54 AM

For ages I've been wanting to make a dress for bub that had pleats in the bodice.  Pleats in the skirt is just too much work, mostly cause I loathe ironing, but this I can manage.  Well, apparently except for matching up the plaid.

The pattern came about by box pleating a piece of paper until I liked the look of it.  Then it was trimmed and re-drawn into a proper bodice.  Well.  When I say proper, I mean it looks sorta like a bodice pattern.  I am messy.  (Someone once told me that creative people are slobs.  I don't necessarily agree but sometimes creativity sure 'aint pretty.)  This is it, anyways.  If you can decipher my chicken scratch, go ahead and use it if you want.  Print it as is, A4, and it should be the same size 0 I drew it as.  If anyone actually wants a proper version of the pattern, let me know and I shall do my best oblige. 

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