Saturday, November 28, 2009

Christmas Madness

18 yo Miss Fairy Bread and I are heading out today to do ALL our Christmas shopping in one hit. It's only 27 sleeps until Christmas. Eeek !

I hate the shops in December and  I have two quilts to finish so I'm doing this now in the hope that I can devote my time elsewhere for all of December.  So off we go- armed with a list. Hopefully by tonight I'll be feeling virtuously organised and smug.

Have a beautiful day.

Update: 4 and a half hours, and many dollars lighter, (but not too many because I'm trying to have a frugal Christmas ) I am home and I am exhausted. I am also happy to report we did get almost everything, (only two presents to get)  so I am one happy shopper. I caved in finally and bought a new Christmas tree (50% off- 7 foot Californian Pine)  and a mini Christmas tree for the table as well. I bought my last Christmas tree in 1992 so it was time for a new one. Now to wrap everything !

Friday, November 27, 2009

Crazy Bargains

We renovated our lounge room a year ago and I've been looking for the perfect table lamp ever since. Mr. Fairy Bread doesnt like the lights on when he watches TV and I hate sitting in the dark. A lamp is a compromise on both our parts.

I finally  found  it last weekend - at a garage sale.

Brought it home, washed some grubby marks off it, added it to a base I already had that I wasn't using and I have a  gorgeous lamp for the side table.

It cost me one dollar. I love it when that happens.

Friendship Bag -Done

I'm going to confess that somewhere during sewing the handles on and flipping right side out  my handles ended up inside the bag never to be seen again..... They were stunningly beautiful handles too. Bummer!

I once made a stuffed bunny rabbit for my then infant daughter and managed to sew it's head on backwards AND inside out so today's faux pas comes as no shock. The bunny looked like something out of a horror movie. I was all for leaving it as it was because by that stage I was fed up with sewing it but my Mum kept muttering comments  about my child needing "years of therapy" if I didn't fix it. Pfffttttt...

I'm going to try to work out what the heck I did to make disappearing handles and then  make one of these in a bigger size for a knitting bag for a Christmas present. Or I could just post a tutorial about how to make disappearing handles and become famous.

AWOL handles aside I'm pretty happy with the finished item. It'll make cute "wrapping" for a Christmas present, and my Mum can use it later to collect clipped threads when she is sewing.

Now I'm going to get on with what I was supposed to be doing all along- quilting.


I should be sewing string squares together or laying out and basting my coin quilt but this little project caught my eye this morning and I thought "What a wonderful way to "wrap"  Mum's Christmas present"....

Sigh...I have the attention span of a goldfish.

Watch this space for the results.(hopefully later today)

And then I really am going to get cracking on those other two projects.  I promise. Honest ...


My Dad sent me a load of old scanned photo's this week . It's made me  nostalgic about my childhood.   Was I ever that young? I had attitude even back then (I think they used to call it fiesty.)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Jumping up and down with excitement

My Moda Scrap Bags have arrived !  I feel like it's Christmas already.

I ended up with 4 Gobble Gobble Packs by Sandy Gervais and 2 Vine Creek bags by Kansas Troubles Quilters. Now, seriously I would never have actively sought to buy this collection of  prints, but my Mum will love 2 of the Gobble Packs for Christmas and I'm already scheming ways to use the other two packs for a quilt for my loungeroom.

The Vine Creek may present me with more of a challenge but I'm sure I'll use it all eventually....

I'm itching to buy some more of these now just for the surprise factor!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas Bauble Wreath

This is nothing new...people are blogging about this all over the internet, but it's a new idea to me , and probably quite new to most people in my corner of the world.

I've noticed that our northern hemisphere friends seem to do a lot more "decorating" than we do. For example, I keep reading blog posts about "Fall Decor" "Halloween Decorating" "Thanksgiving Decorating" and the like. Do people seriously tart up or change their homes for a season? I'm not criticising, it's just that it's not really done here and the idea is alien to most Aussies I think.  I feel all cosmopolitan if I change my throw rug in winter. My point is we dont really do that much Christmas decorating. And dammit I feel left out. Curse you internet for showing me what I'm missing!

Anyway back to the project ...I got the idea from Thrifty Decor Chick, who mentioned that it was originally done by Eddie Ross so I wandered over there for a look as well. I have to tell you I was so darn taken with this idea, that with 55 minutes before the shops closed tonight I was yelling at my daughter and mother to get in the car so I could go and buy baubles.  

People are blogging that this costs about ten bucks to make. Maybe baubles are cheaper in other parts of the world- or maybe we have bigger coathangers or something because all up it cost me about $20.00 bucks to make this but I love the effect and nobody else I know has one, so I'm pretty pleased with the overall result. I'll try to hit the post Christmas sales to see if I can get cheap baubles in green, gold and red to make one for next year for another part of the house.

Tres Gorgeous

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Sunday Obsessed

I seem to be unable to stop myself from buying fabric at the moment. Everywhere I turn I find lovely new things I simply must have.

They're calling me....

The lovelies above were on sale for around 60% off.  I'm seeing these in a Dresden Plate quilt or something inspired by the 1940's.

I figure I can never have enough fat quarters for my stash. I think these would look beautiful in a coin quilt.

Christmas fat quarters . Not sure yet what I'm going to do with these, but I just liked them so much, I had to buy them.

How gorgeous are these ? I have no idea what to do with them, but I completely fell in love with the colours and patterns.

I'm dangerously close to being classified as obsessed.

30 Days of Frugal Christmas Gifts- Mini Christmas Puddings

I can't take credit for this idea. At work some of us swap gifts at Christmas time - trinkets, trifles, small tokens, and this one came from my friend Nerida (who by the way is one of the sweetest people I know)

Nerida was kind enough to share her secret recipe with me last year and I made these for our family Christmas show. What I like about these is that they are so cute and so easy to do. Nerida wrapped four of these in cellophane for each of us last year and gave them as gifts (mine didnt even make it home -YUM) They look pretty darn impressive.

Nerida's Mini Christmas Pudding Recipe

You will need
1 store bought dark fruit cake (around 500 grams)
300 grams white chocolate melts
1 pack of glace cherries (cut into halves )
1 pack of spearmint leaves (lollies) or green jellies or jubes cut to resemble small leaves
1/4 cup brandy, Kahlua or Tia Maria

Cut the fruit cake into large slices and then crumble it into a large bowl.
Gradually add the alcohol mixing it well with the crumbled cake and then pop in the fridge for around 30 minutes
Roll the cake into small balls (about walnut sized) and place on baking paper to slightly dry out (this will also give them a flat bottom so they'll sit better )

Melt the white chocolate , and drop a small amount onto the top of the "pudding ". Let it slide a little down the sides so it looks like custard.

Pop half a glace cherry on top of the slightly warm chocolate and gently press in two leaves on either side.

Try not to eat every single one of these as you make them ... They look very classy in a white box  tied with red ribbon if you get them that far ....

30 Days of Frugal Christmas Gifts- Peppermint Candy Cane Bark

This is one that should be in everyone's "quick, easy and dirt cheap christmas gifts " repertoire.

Perfect for a pot luck, shared lunch, individual gifts, or just for the table as a pretty colourful addition to the festivities.

You will need
1 pack (around 12 ) peppermint candy canes
250 grams white chocolate

If you prefer you can make this with milk or dark chocolate as well, or substitute the candy canes for smarties or something similar. Candy canes are nice because they are so christmassy.

Break the candy canes into pieces and then put them into a bag and run a rolling pin over it. You dont want candy cane dust you want discernable but small pieces.

Melt the chocolate,  and pour onto a large lightly greased baking tray until it's around 2 mm thick. Evenly sprinkle the candy canes on top. Set aside until set or even pop it in the fridge.
When set break it into pieces and pop it on a serving tray, or into individual cellophane bags. Go here for  a picture of the finished result.  Gorgeous!
Total cost - $1.99 for the canes , and about $4.00 for the chocolate
You can check out a candy cane cake as well here. I love candy canes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Busy Weekend

We have  a busy weekend planned.

Tonight we are babysitting our 4 month old grandson overnight for the first time without other responsible adults present!  Sure...he lives with us, but so far we haven't had him overnight without his Mum here. Hopefully he will sleep through the night. I wonder if I can get some housework done tonight ( see how exciting life gets in your 40's...instead of going out raging you do housework on Friday nights)

Busy. Have to clean the house, iron, wash and do all those other end of week things.  Have to go to the hardware store for supplies, do the grocery shop , come home , do lunch with our daughter and her boyfriend, and then clean up the patio ,  and back and front yards.

Out tomorrow night for my husband's uncle's 60th birthday.

Sunday, my parents will arrive early. Mr. Fairy Bread has had  a social club 20th anniversary outing thingy arranged for the last 6 months , so he's off to that . (And will no doubt arrive home late Sunday much the worse for wear ) Dad wants to go to the hardware stores. Mum wants to go to all the quilting shops because they live in the Boonies and don't get to the big smoke all that often. Then we're having a family dinner here that night.

Somewhere in there I want to get some quilting done.

Sir Edmund Hilary called and asked if he could come over and scale my ironing pile because it's almost as challenging as Mt. Everest.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Advice I would give my 20 year old self

If my mother had tried to tell me any of this stuff when I was 20 the thoughts in my head would have run a little like that episode from The Simpson’s where they’re showing everything from the dog’s perspective. It goes something like this “Blah...Blah...Blah sit, Blah...Blah...Blah...walk, Blah...Blah" …well you get the idea. The dog just hears the words that interest it , not the whole message.

At age 20 according to me my mother had been living since dinosaurs roamed the earth but still knew Nothing, while in my infinite wisdom I knew Everything. At 15 I was truly surprised when I saw her wedding pictures and she was wearing a bridal gown and tiara and not a loin cloth with a bone through her hair.

23 years later I realise she did know Everything. She knew all of this stuff then because she had experienced a fair whack of it. (Well some of it- not the divorce or break up bits because she’s been married to my Dad for almost 48 years ) On reflection it maybe was disappointing to her that both her kids were divorced by their late 20’s. Not that she adored either of our first husbands but that’s a whole new blog post.

If only I hadn’t rolled my eyes every time she spoke to me between ages 13 and 25 she might have felt safe enough to have shared her experiences and wisdom and saved me over 20 years of self learning and hard knocks.  Or maybe she felt that part of lifes journey is finding this stuff out for yourself. Whatever .

And in a similar fashion I wont share this with my daughter because she is really good at rolling her eyes (sometimes I’m truly worried they might roll right out of her head when I’m talking) and acting like I’ve been roaming the earth since just after dinosaurs became extinct. Apparently I'm so old I fart dust.

So these are all the things I wish I’d known at 20 …that I know now in my 40’s…

The guy you think broke your heart when you were 19 was a selfish pig, who will end up divorced, lonely and pathetic (he was at least two of those things when you were together anyway) In a few years he’ll look you up, trying to re-kindle the flame because you were always so forgiving and dependable and you’ll walk away wondering what you ever saw in him. Living a great life is always the best revenge.

Continue to use moisturizer every day whether you think you need it or not ( By the time your former best friend who isn’t using it enters her mid 30’s her face is going to look like a desiccated apple) Ditto with drinking lots of water.

Don’t be in a hurry to get married. Wait until you know who you are before you try to be half of a couple. Then make sure he knows who he is because you can waste a lot of time trying to glue someone back together that you had nothing to do with breaking. Marry someone you like and can be friends with. As horrifying as that sounds to you now in your romantic 20’s , by your mid thirties you’ll realise friends is better than bonk buddies since if you have any kids at all, you probably wont be having sex until they move out of home anyway. By the way - when they do move out of home they will be back-probably multiple times, and everytime they do they'll bring more mouths to feed.

Put away as much as you can afford from your pay packet every week for the next 5 years. It’ll save you years of paying off a mortgage in the long run and offer you so many more choices when you’re in your 40’s. And when you’re ready to settle down find a man who has done the same. Trust me on this.

Know when something is finished. That includes friendships, marriages, relationships, and jobs that are no longer fulfilling. You don’t have to get mad to walk away from something that isn’t working you just have to know when it’s time to leave. You can mourn the loss and still move on with your life.

You’re going to spend a lot of time at work over the next 40 or so years. Make sure you pick something you enjoy, at least most of the time. The corporate ladder is highly over rated. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a surgeon or a check out operator – so long as you’re happy doing it. Generally you should think of your job as something you do to earn money so you can have a life when you aren’t working.

Don’t over think things. Learn to relax and go with the flow. You can waste a lot of life over thinking stuff that doesn’t require a lot of thought. If you worry about looking silly, you’re going to miss a lot of fun and opportunities in life. Don’t say No too often. Saying Yes is the best way to experience life.

Stuff  that is important when you’re 20 wont matter at all when you’re 30. Stuff that mattered when you’re 30 probably wont have a lot of relevance when you’re 40 either. That's called growth.

Despite what people tell you there are some things in life that can’t be undone. Try not to do too many of them. You know what these things are because I've brought you up right.

There are so many things that don’t matter – a clean house, other people’s opinions of you, doing things because other people expect you to. Try to live a life that will be a tribute to you when you aren’t here any more, but most importantly will make you happy most of the time you are here .  When you finally go, nobody is going to etch “she kept a clean house and did everything to please others ” on your headstone. I've never seen it in a cemetery - not once.

"Someday" is not a word that should really be in your vocabulary. Someday is NOW because there may not be a someday. I have spent many somedays planning a trip to Europe. By the time I get there the leaning tower of Pisa will probably be horizontal .

Learn not to regret - if it's done there isn't much you an do about it. Learn from the mistake - don't repeat it and move on.

Above all live well, live a life you can be proud of and make sure you surround yourself with those you love.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

30 Days of frugal Christmas Gifts -Cookies in a Jar

"Things" in a jar are among my favourite gifts to give.

Last year I did cookies in a jar and they were a massive hit. I wish I'd thought to take some pictures but I didn't, and since Im not doing cookies in a jar this year you're just going to have to use your imagination.

These are fast to make even if you're doing a lot of them. I did three different types and everyone asked me for the recipes afterwards. You're going to need jars, basic cooking ingredients, some fancy ones if you decide to go that way , fabric and pretty ribbon.

Recipes are here , here and all the ones I made last year are here

I searched EVERYWHERE for cranberries here and couldn't find them , and we also dont have butterscotch chips here either which was kinda disappointing because I couldn't make those delicious cranberry hootycreeks or any of the butterscotch ones.

Donations of butterscotch chips will be gratefully received since I've found tons of recipes that use them. Just like that marshmallow creme fluff stuff I keep reading about. How come other countries have all the good food I want to try?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A very weird day

Today has been quite odd.  A couple of things happened at work which I'm now stressing out over, completely out of proportion with the circumstances. Perhaps I'm out of touch with my own reality. Maybe I need a holiday. Maybe I'm getting  -it's -almost-holidays-and I'm completely-overwhelmed-disease.

On another topic (distraction is good for us crazy people) my sister called late last night to tell me that she and her husband have decided to put their house up for sale and move here. "Here" is about a  3 day drive from where they live now so for the first time in 12 years I'll be 15 minutes way from my sister. Very exciting!

I've done no sewing since Sunday and I really need to do a burst of my string quilt for Sandra if I'm going to get it finished by Christmas. I PROMISE I'll do some tomorrow...just so tired lately !

Monday, November 16, 2009

30 Days of Frugal Christmas Gifts - Let them eat cake

Or at least bathe in it.....

These soaps DO look good enough to eat !

Cute and kitsch. The size of a real slice of cake. And they smell like the actual cake they're made to represent. These are lemon meringue pie and coffee cake.

I got these ones from Darwin at a market stall called Dragonfly Lane, and they cost about $8.00 each. 

I can't bring myself to use them!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

30 Days of Frugal Christmas Gifts-Sweets for the Sweet

I'm the first to admit I am no photographer. My second confession is that I'm not great at cooking. Thirdly I'll own up presentation aint my thing either. That being said I'm going to post this anyway!

Sweet treats are so easy to make at home and I don't know anyone who doesn't love confectionary. So this makes them perfect for Christmas gifts!

I did some experimenting today and came up with black treacle toffees , chocolate fudge squares and home made honeycomb. All from internet recipes.

You could try  coconut ice, rocky road, a fudge selection or hand made chocolates.

Go forth and make sweets !

Stacked Coin Quilt Progress

I think I'm in love with stacked coin quilts.

I still need to add a top and a bottom border, but I wanted to get a picture up of my progress so far.

This one is made from the fat quarters I bought at last Sunday's quilt show and this is the "other"project I'm hoping to get finished in time for Christmas.

I just love how easy these are to put together, and can feel another one in the works after this one is done. I've got some Moda Charm squares that would look darling in a quilt like this.

All in all , it's been a productive (but scorchingly hot) weekend!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tres Cosmopolitan

I've long been intrigued by the idea of Moda Scrap Bags.

I'm sure you can get them here in Australia but they arent prolific, so I wandered off to eBay to have a look. Not much there and not much in online quilt stores either. And what I could find was expensive.

So I started looking online in America. Oh Happy Day! They're everywhere!

I ordered 6 of these little suckers from Hancocks of Paducah. (Even the name sounds thrilling)  That makes me very cosmopolitan because I'm ordering fabric from overseas. And even with currency conversion and postage it worked out to be really reasonable. More reasonable than buying them here -if I could find them ...I hope my sisters in America realise how wonderfully lucky they are to have access to fabrics so cheaply.

They're on back order so who knows when they'll arrive. It's like a lucky dip.  I'm so excited!

Just had to share! Off to do some quilting now.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Great Expectations

With the weather so hot here, I'm planning an entire blissful weekend of quilting. Inside. Out of the Sun. With the airconditioner going. Full Blast.

I have one quilt well under way and have just started another one that I would love to finish before Christmas, so I'm going to be one very busy chickadee. Naturally I have to go out in the morning to make sure I have plenty of supplies to get me through the weekend.

I'll do a post and let you know whether I get much done or just turn into a total slacker!

30 Days of Frugal Christmas Gifts- Cheating Apron

I missed a post yesterday ...but I have a good excuse. We are experiencing the first ever recorded November heatwave in my state this week and it's damn hot. People are cranky , my blog posts are completely uninspired and I really dont want to go outside to set up and photograph anything because I'm not into being burnt to a crisp...

I had planned some chocolate and other food posts this week but with the weather chocolate is melting within seconds, and with cooking pretty much out of the question this post isn't very exciting either. Hopefully with more time over the weekend I'll get my gift blogging mojo back.

This is a "cheating" apron. The cheating part is it's not made from scratch. It's made from the front of a skirt that I unpicked at the seams and with side seams sewn back in. Then you just unpick the waist band , add ties (ummm those ties are made out of an old pillowcase) sew the waist band back down and voila ! All Done.  I made this one for around 3 bucks. I hear aprons are making a come back.....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

30 Days of Frugal Christmas Gifts- Crafty Chic!

Day 9 of frugal christmas gifts already!

The perfect gift for someone who sews! Quick and cheap to make up but oh so cute!

I whipped up these chenille pincushions earlier this year and gave them as gifts. I had eveything I needed on hand , and they're made from chenille scraps . (The more I look at scraps and what you can do with them the more I fall in love with them ) These are stuffed with the guts of an old dacron pillow I had laying around, so essentially they cost me nothing but time.

You could use any type of material you had on hand , and they'd look terrific.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

30 Days of Frugal Christmas Gifts -Spice it up!

A couple of years ago, while cooking a lamb roast in fact, I decided that buying lamb roast rub was getting too expensive and decided to make my own. The internet is a wonderful amazing place because you can type in almost anything and get an answer.

This was the year that EVERYONE we knew got lamb, beef , pork and other rubs in large jars for Christmas and such has been  my legend ever since that people are still asking me for more spicy goodness or the recipes.  Here they are:

Mix up multiple servings at once and toss them into jars , pretty them up with handmade tags saying what type of rub they are and what type of meat to use them with and people will love you practically forever.

P.S. Spices are bought much more cheaply in bulk from Asian or Indian Grocery stores than from your local supermarket (unless that happens to be a multi cultural grocery store!)


How cute are these fabric pinwheels? Sandi Henderson has the free download-able pattern on her website here . So darn easy too! I managed to do these three without hot glue gunning my hand to anything permanently.

 I'm still scheming how to get me some of that gorgeous Meadowsweet fabric. Nobody at the quilting show on Sunday has pre-ordered any into my home town yet and I can't find any Australian stockists doing pre-orders either. (Insert massive sigh here )

P.S. These pinwheels would also look so pretty in christmas fabric, but with so many other things on the go at the moment thats not going to be an option here!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Because I am insane.......

With 45 days until Christmas (eeeekkkkkkkk) 31 of which I have to work I have decided I am going to attempt to not only finish Sandra's quilt but also start another major project.


30 Days of Christmas Gifts - Quilt It Up

This is a really fast and cheap quilt to make . Made from chenille, old jeans and cotton material, with no batting, you can bang one of these up in a day or two.

And the cuteness factor with the exposed rag seams which just get softer and fluffier with each wash is sure to make it a hit with the recipient.

These also make great dog blankets made from all denim and are virtually indestructable. You can get really creative with cutouts, fabrics and appliques. I've done stars , reverse windows and frog appliques with gorgeous multi coloured fabric. I've even done camo fabric for a boys quilt.

Old jeans : Free - start saving your old pairs!
1 x vintage chenille blanket - $3.00 from the op shop
Cotton Material - $8.00 on sale

Total cost of blanket - about $11.00 plus cotton and a rainy weekend.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Today I learned .....

You cannot go to a quilting and craft show and buy nothing ....even if it is Frugal November.

30 Days of Frugal Christmas Gifts- Savvy Shopping

You know how you sometimes see something in the shops in June and think "That would be PERFECT for Aunt Gladys / Mum /The Neighbours / The Cat for Christmas"  

Naturally when December rolls around you find:
a) You can't remember what your brilliant idea in June was
b) They don't make them/stock them anymore
c) They stock them alright but they cost three times the price they did in June

Now you can go down the socks, chocs and jocks road, or you can get savvy and Christmas shop all year. Sounds simple doesn't it?  But how many of us actually do it?

I've managed to snag some really crazy bargains by shopping for Christmas through the year and stashing those gifts away. Some of those gifts are unusual , some were too good a price to pass up and some were perfect for the recipient. As an added bonus in December I can sit home feeling smug and virtuous as everyone else battles the Christmas shopping crowds (if they can find a car park. )

Here are some of the things I've purchased through this year waiting to be wrapped and tagged.

Baby Toys - brand name -  a few dollars each

Recycled Paper notebook / Cute Journal $8.00 for the pair

Purses. Purchased at last year's Christmas sale. Retail $60.00. I paid $19.95 for both.

Fun jewellery. Great stocking fillers! $5.00 each.

I also scored ( but am too lazy today to photograph )
Vintage Bunnykins Trio from late 1960's. Mint condition never used still in original box - purchased from a second hand store that was closing down. It was tagged $110.00 . They said make us an offer. $20.00 later I walked out of the shop with it.

A Vintage Staffordshire Tiered Cake Plate -for 8 dollars. Will look great with fairy cakes on it as a gift.

Happy Shopping!

My Creative Space - A piece of heaven

I was going to give you a running saga of my sewing room woes but whatever I wrote sounded like I was having a Fairy Bread Pity Party.

The abridged version of my sorry tale is that I've  had a sewing room  from time to time but usually I get to enjoy it for 4-5 weeks before a relative of some sort needs to come and stay with us.  They say it's "for a few weeks" but they really mean forever.  

I have actually moved the stuff in and out of and changed the locale of my sewing room about 5 times in the last 18 months.  At the moment I'm in our guest bedroom , which is going to get really interesting when relatives come to stay at Christmas because a bit like the Princess and the Pea they're going to have to sleep on mounds of fabric.

Anyway , I had to do a re-shuffle of furniture yesterday due to the needs of our latest house guests (Yes Virginia it is possible to fit 43 square  metres of furniture into a 20 square  metre space ) and managed to get everything re-sorted and I'm feeling quite organised. At least I got to see how much stuff I have. I clearly have fabric hoarding  issues.

I'm off to the quilting and crafting show today. Wonder where I'm going to fit all the new fabric I'm likely to bring home?

Meadowsweet - I'm in love

I never really understood the hoopla that surrounds the release of particular fabric collections.

I've spent the whole of 2009 only sewing with re-purposed fabrics , including lots of vintage sheets. That's the way I roll. If I want something specific I go to Spotlight and bitch and whine about paying $14.95 a metre for fabric made in China.

Then I saw Sandi Henderson's Meadowsweet collection, and I'm in lurve....If you want to have a peek go here . I keep going there constantly just to get me some eye candy. I. Want. This. Fabric.

Please resume normal activities. I just had to share.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

30 Days of Frugal Christmas Gifts- Sew Easy

I made these placemats earlier this year for my friends Natalie and Nerida who were both celebrating birthdays.

They were made from my ever growing fabric stash, and they were a real hit. I made them using the flip and fold technique. Dead easy – straight line sewing. My kind of sewing!

I’m guess-timating here but I think they probably cost me about 10.00 for each set, including batting. You could do a Christmas theme or something that matched your recipients décor as I did. Pretty them up with gorgeous wrapping paper and a handmade gift tag and watch everyone tell you how clever you are.

Too bad I didn’t make myself some while I was at it! I am considering doing some for Christmas lunch which is going to be at my house this year.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Crafty Goodness

Picture quality is not fab ...but I finished 121 squares for Sandra's Quilt, which means I'm ready to lay it out and start sewing the top together. Maybe I will finish it by Christmas after all!

30 Days of Frugal Christmas Gifts - Casserole Heaven

Here's last weeks casserole dish/garage sale find filled to the brim with casserole bases and stocks to give as a gift for busy hungry people.

Total cost of this gift was under $15.00, but I used 7 packs of casserole bases and two stocks, so if you wanted to go super frugal you could halve that and the cost of the gift would come down to under $10.

Frugal Savings - Pets

We're big on animals in this house. To us they're part of the family. We have four pets (not including the free loading blue tongue lizard that lives in various places in the backyard )

Our German shorthaired Pointers, Indiana Bones and Lola Daisy eat a lot because they are large dogs. Mordecai our ginger cat is also a big cat. (See the theme here - we like BIG) Moo is our anomaly. We got her as a kitten and she never really grew much. What she lacks in stature she makes up for in attitude. You don't want to mess with this cat.

Feeding four companions can get pretty expensive, and thats not even thinking about vet bills, flea treatments, heart worm prevention, unexpected illness  etc etc. I think at one stage we were spending around $3200.00 per year just feeding these critters. Isn't that insane? 

Now we make our own dog food about once every 10 days and pop it in the freezer in meal sized portions. That saves us about $525.00 a year over canned or pre-made dog food. I also save all the vegie and meat scraps from meals in a bag in the freezer and they go into the dog food when we make it up to pad it out a bit. (see my recipe below)

I buy good quality dry food in 15 kilo bags, three bags at a  time. Our breeder told us what she feeds dogs she isn't showing and we buy the same.  That's in preference to high quality premium bags of dogs food, which we did feed them for the first two years to assist with good bone development. That saves us about $494.00 a year. I also buy our cat food in 6.5 kilo bags instead of boxes which saves us about $100.00 a year.

I used to buy dried pigs ears because the dogs love them and they're good for their teeth. My dogs can also chew one to oblivion in 20 minutes. At $2.50 each twice a week thats expensive. Now I buy a huge bone cut in half which they play with for up to a week and that saves me $390.00 a year. Pigs ears are now "sometimes" foods just like Cookie Monsters cookie's.

So with just a little effort we managed to cut our food bill by almost half. That's $1500.00!!!

Fairy Bread's Dog Food Recipe

4 kilograms (around 9 pounds) chicken mince
2 kilos of chopped vegies (peas, carrot , beans) I just buy them already bagged and frozen.
2 x 500 gram packs of dry pasta
2 eggs
Crushed garlic (about a tablespoon )

Brown the meat, and drain off any excess fat. Microwave the vegies and while you're doing this throw in the garlic and eggs to the pot of meat and mix well. Boil the pasta, and add this, the vegies and any table scraps you've saved to the mix. Let it cool and bag in individual portions. Sometimes I throw in a can of sardines because they're good for the dogs coats. You can also use rice instead of pasta.  Our vet has commented positively on the condition and health of our dogs so we must be doing something right and the dogs LOVE their food.

Please be aware that some vegies are not good for dogs. Large amounts of potato, potato skins, and high amounts of broccoli can cause adverse reactions. Under no circumstances should onion be fed to dogs. Please check with your vet before you make your own dog food.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

30 Days of Frugal Christmas Gifts - Tea Party

In the olden days when people were civilized they used to stop and have high tea in the mid to late afternoon.

You can pick up beautiful old china at thrift stores and garage sales for a few dollars a set. Ideal for people who collect old china  or want to revive the civilised custom of afternoon tea.

Fill them with exotic or flavoured tea sachets and wrap each cup individually in cellophane finishing off with a big bow. For bigger impact you can pop a couple of individually packaged biscuits on the plate next to the tea cup before you wrap it up. You can give them individually or in pairs. I did a set of six different trios for my sister a few Christmases ago and went to the trouble of dating each vintage trio and writing a history for each set which I popped in the box I wrapped them in.

These two cups filled with sachets of teas worked out at $11.50. If you’re really keen to go with a tea party theme the teapot was $3.00 and the cookie jar was $2.00 from thrift stores.  I know they don’t match but isn’t that part of the beauty?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

30 Days of Frugal Christmas Gifts- Skullduggery Jam


Crafty deception or trickery or an instance of it.

I first became acquainted with Skullduggery Jam many years ago through a book I was reading. I can’t recall what the book was now but it was hilarious.

Skullduggery Jam is right up my alley. Fast, cheap and cute.

Go buy as many jars from the thrift store as you plan to make jars of jam. If you’ve been collecting jars all year then so much the better (and cheaper) Unusual shapes or decorative jars are good, but plain will do if that’s all you can find because you’re going to gussy them up a bit later. Wash and dry the jars so they sparkle.

Go to the store and buy the same number of jars of cheap but edible jam as you have empty jars to fill. You can spring for the good stuff but basically most people won’t know the difference. (or at least nobody I know does )

Come home and spoon the jam into the jars you bought at the thrift store and screw the lids back on.

Cut a circle of material from your fabric stash that is about 1-2 inches bigger in diameter than the jar lid. Place this on the top of the jar and wrap a ribbon round the jar to make it look pretty.

Create a label saying “Skullduggery Jam “. For a touch of authenticity you can add the date you packed the jam, which will lend credence to the idea you actually made it yourself. I stress here you’re not saying you made the jam and you aren’t responsible for others making that assumption.

Voila you’re done! I made my two jars for less than $3.00. (But  I didn’t make those scones. I can’t make scones to save myself. My sister makes excellent scones and she won't share her recipe)

If you're worried about people thinking you're a cheapskate and /or a fibber  I suppose you could bake some scones to go with the skullduggery jam as part of the gift....personally I think we all worry too much about what others think.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

30 Days of Frugal Christmas Gifts - Frame Up - Day 1

Here’s a nifty and easy Christmas present that looks more expensive than it is and would be great for someone who has a console table or space to fill.

Buy frames from your local discount store in a colour theme and fill the frames with things that match your colour or subject theme. I used things I had laying around the house. This collection includes scrap-booking paper cut to size, material off cuts from some potholders I made and black and white family wedding photographs.

The entire collection cost me under $15.00 (and half of that was for the silver scrolls middle frame- but I figure it kind of makes the rest of them look more classy) and would look beautiful with the frames individually wrapped in tissue paper and popped in a box with a big ribbon for presentation.

Tip: Be creative with your theme to make sure it matches the décor of the house and the interests of the recipients. My black and white frames were made for a black and white French guest room boudoir.

Monday, November 02, 2009

News Flash...... 30 Days of Frugal Christmas Gifts

I am going to take the plunge and commit to something big here. If I don't announce it publicly I'll find an excuse not to do it.  (You know how it goes- insert whiny voice here "I dont have time ", "My ideas suck " "Nobody reads my stuff anyway" )

In honour of frugally fun November, and the  gorgeously frugal Christmas I'm having this year, I've decided to have "30 days of Frugal Christmas Gifts " where I'll post gift ideas - one per day until we reach 30! 

Please feel free to use the ideas or vary them to suit your own themes and budgets. The possibilities are endless and I'd love to hear your ideas too!

To kick off the frugal-fest and to help finish wrapping your gorgeous gifts you're gonna need gift tags! How frugal and beautiful is it to print your own? Individual hand crafted gift tags and all for free!

Check out the collective genius on the  Bella Dia blog (Who says idle web surfing is a waste of time?) which has links to almost every free gift tag site ever heard of.   You can check it out here  and print to your hearts content! And Sew Mama Sew also has more free gift tags here  and they're all so sweet!

Happy Printing!

Small confession....I ate 5 Monte Carlo biscuits  while typing this post ....ugh ...I think that's a personal best in the piggy stakes.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Simple Savings - The $21 Challenge Book

Fiona Lippey (Self Confessed Miser Extraordinaire) and owner of the Simple Savings website has just co-authored and published a book called "The $21 Challenge".

I first heard about this concept around 2 years ago when I was a subscriber to the site and have practiced it on and off ever since. In her free  Simple Savings newsletter she has just sent the first chapter of the book via email to whet our appetities. You can have a look at it here . Needless to say, I just ordered a copy of the book.

Essentially the premise is simple. It's about finding extra money from your shopping budget by occasionally taking the pledge to only spend $21.00 for the week on shopping. By using what we already have in our pantries and freezers and getting really creative with meal plans, you can save substantial amounts of cash over the course of the year with just a bit of effort. For example we do this one week in four and save around $1700.00 a year from our grocery budget. I love the concept and the savings!

Fiona is offering signed copies of the book for purchase on her website, and for Australians you can  go to selected bookstores, and department stores for a copy if you'd prefer to flick through the book before you purchase. 

Happy Reading!