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29 September, 2011

Beatrix Potter - Favourite Stories

The other day I watched a movie called "Miss Potter".  
The credits said:- MISS POTTER is the enchanting, inspiring tale of one woman's quest for happiness, love and artistic acceptance.

Beatrix Potter was played by Renee Zellweger and I thought it was a great portrayal.    Briefly the story went like this.  Beatrix was mind set on getting her book "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" published.  It eventually happened with some reluctance by the publishing company and they sort only to humour Beatrix.  They never believed it would be taken seriously by the general public.  As it happens, the man assigned to be her publisher Norman Warne (Ewan McGregor in the movie)  believed in the book.  

As with all love stories Beatrix fell in love with Norman and they became unofficially engaged due to the fact that her parents disapproved of Norman because he was only a 'tradesman'.  By this time Beatrix was 32 years old and regarded a spinster, yet very much under the control of her parents.  Since Beatrix had rejected all the appropriate suitors her mother had chosen and approved, her parents had determined she would not marry. 

After much arguing about Norman and her intended marriage, Beatrix agreed to go away for the summer months to Scotland with her parents with the understanding that on her return she would marry Norman.  Her mother was hoping the time away would cool Beatrix yearnings, but it was quite the opposite.  

During this period away, Beatrix received a letter saying her darling Norman was quite ill.  She raced back to London only to find she was too late.  Norman had died and the funeral had been the day before she arrived.   Naturally Beatrix was grief stricken for a long time and only found solace in her illustrations and writing.

The upside of all this was that "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" was a huge success.  As she was now independently rich , Beatrix bought a house in the country where she lived happily ever after and some eight years later married an old friend and lawyer, William Heelis.  Read more about Miss Potter here.

This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.

Beatrix Potter
Born28 July 1866
Kensington, London, England
Died22 December 1943 (aged 77)
Near Sawrey, Cumbria, England
OccupationChildren's author and illustrator
GenresChildren's literature
Notable work(s)The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Spouse(s)William Heelis

I remember reading "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" to my children when they were one month old.  I don't know if it really did them any good, but it was heaven for me to sit quietly and read to them while they slept. To hear their quiet breathing and smell their beautiful baby smells is a lasting memory.  Neither my boys are voracious readers, but they're doing quite well in the world, making it successfully through University.  So at some point their reading prowess paid off.  Well I just love to read and this movie about Beatrix Potter and her gorgeous Peter Rabbit just made my day.  I'm off to re-read all her stories.

To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries. 
 - A C Grayling, Financial Times (in a review of A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel)

This post is also part of Friday on My Mind link back to Rhonda at Down To Earth to find out what's on other people's minds to day.
This post is also part of Katherine's Corner blog hop.

27 September, 2011


We all know cats can showoff but this is taking planking to the extreme, don't you think?

Of course this bird has amazing planking talents too.

Hope you're having an enjoyable day.

26 September, 2011

Christmas Gift To Make For Your Pet - Tutorial and Written Instructions


Hello everyone, today I am posting another tutorial, this one being a treat you can make for your pet.  The main focus will be creating a craft that doesn't require you to go out and buy new products, instead I hope you will be able to use bits and pieces from your home stash.  I encourage you to improvise where an item is not available and look at what you can recycle. They are easy enough to make that children can lend a helping hand.  Some basic straight stitch machine sewing is involved, but it can just as easily be hand sewn which may take longer to make.  I'm planting the seed, you go ahead and do it your way and most of all have some fun.

Written instructions can be downloaded here and if you scroll down you will see how I went about the construction of the pet treat hanger.  They look great hanging on a Christmas tree but put them up high enough so that your pet cannot get to them.

Here's how to construct the decoration.

Lay out the material and cut the patterned material about 1cm large all round than the felt piece.  I ironed the material and folded the edges in to make it a lot easier.

I folded each short end under the felt because later I will slide the end of the ribbon into this slot and then sew along the top edge to secure the loop which will be used to hang the decoration on the tree.

I pinned the long edges before sewing and I also ironed the edges to make it easier.  You could hand sew these edges with a blanket stitch if you didn't want to use a sewing machine.

Once I had the edges neat I simply selected a fancy stitch on my sewing machine and sewed around the two short and two long edges.  Finally, it was simply a matter of looping the ribbon one under the other.  These loops will hold the treat you have for your pet, so make them as big or as small as needed.  You can add bows, bells, plastic holly leaves to the decoration, whatever takes your fancy.

Once I had the loops pinned and the size I wanted, I sewed each loop in place using the sewing machine, this is probably the fiddliest part of the assembly.  You could just as easily hand sew the loops.

You could also place the ribbon loops on the felt before constructing the hanging decoration.  By doing it this way you won't see the stitching on the back of the decoration, it will be hidden when you add the larger patterned material to the back.

Alternatively, you don't have to use felt and Christmas material, you could use a special material like I did above and I added some bells to the ribbon.  The fact is I don't think your pet will mind how you construct this little gift, but he/she will be more interested in what is hanging in the loops.

25 September, 2011

Easy Pixie Decoration - Tutorial and Written Instructions


Hello everyone, today I am posting what I hope will be the first of several tutorials I have planned to share on my blog.  The main focus will be creating a craft that doesn't require you to go out and buy new products, instead I hope you will be able to use bits and pieces from your home stash.  I encourage you to improvise where an item is not available and look at what you can recycle. They are easy enough to make that children can lend a helping hand.  There's no sewing involved in this pixie, but if you don't have any glue you could hand sew if you prefer.  I'm planting the seed, you go ahead and do it your way and most of all have some fun.

Two completed pixies and here is the template and written instructions.  Scroll down to see how I went about the construction of the pixie.  They look great hanging on a Christmas tree.

Once you download the template and written instructions, you will cut out the different parts of the pixie in whatever colours you want and then with glue or sewing needle and thread put it together.

I used a small piece of pipe cleaner to give some movement to the arms and glued it in place.

Make sure you add a piece of pipe cleaner for the neck as this will go into the foam ball and secure the head to the body.

Looks a bit messy, but my glue needs replacing, fresh glue is easier to work with.  All this will be covered so it's not a concern at this stage.

I sewed the beads onto the vest and hat.  Then I made the hair from wool scraps, wrapping the wool around a piece of cardboard and then knotting the middle, like the part in the hair and I glued the hair to the foam ball.

The hair should look something like this when removed from the cardboard and the loop ends are cut.  Spread out the hair to form a circle and if you like you could cut a bit of a fringe.  Once all the bits and piece are assembled the end result looks like this.  But remember you can make them quite different if you choose, it will depend on what material you have at hand and your own personal preferences.

You can paint a face on if you prefer.  I kept it simple by glueing tiny felt eyes and nothing else.  Because there is a pipe cleaner for the neck you can bend the head so it's looking downwards, giving the pixie a shy look and hence the face is not so prominent.

Hope you enjoy this tutorial and have fun making them.

I have a fun and easy gift to make for your pet next time. 

24 September, 2011

Travel Journals

Journals are all the go these days and I have one with me all the time, as well as my camera.  I'm more likely to leave my phone at home rather than my camera or journal.

I made these with Christmas gifts in mind.  They can also be rolled up if it was decided that a hard backed journal was not appropriate.

Fits perfectly into a pocket.

So from this plain old journal

I came up with this.  This journal cover will not only keep an illustrator happy, but it will hold any sort of crafty tool.  

This one has a zipper pocket - just a little bit fancy.  May be this would be a great cover for a special book that you wanted to take out but protect as well.  I really think this little dude has lots of applications.

23 September, 2011

Glorious Books

I use to read 'Possum in the House' to my children all the time.  We had so much fun; I would deliver the story with flare and flamboyancy much to the delight and giggles of my boys.  My husband would come in and remind me that I was trying to get the kids sleepy, not all hyped-up.  My boys can remember this story and well it’s my plan to read it to the grandchildren one day.  Just as well books last a long time.

This book was written by Kiersten Jensen and illustrated by Tony Oliver.  The book is full of beautiful drawings and when trying to research on the net to give credit where credit is due, I couldn't find much about author or illustrator.  A little bit about Tony Oliver is here and I noticed it can still be purchased via Amazon and other online book stores. I have read this book so many times that I know it by heart and have told the story heaps of times to children of friends before they pop off to bed.

One of my boys favourite stories was the one about a rabbit.  Well, it was my story not from a book, but I still remember my boys giggles when I told it.  Do you want me to tell you the story?  Yes, well here goes.

Once upon a time there were two young boys walking along a lane near a dark and scary forest (bush if you live in Australia).  They were a tiny bit frightened but they kept walking hoping to get home real soon.  As they walked along this lane up jumped a rabbit out of a hole in the ground.  Well, the boys were startled but curious.  They eye balled the rabbit but said not a word. No, no, nope not a word. The rabbit eye balled them back and said in a high pitched squeaky voice “Hello, what's your name?"

That's it folks, the end.  By this time my boys would be rolling around the bed with tears in their eyes because, well it was just so funny!  I guess you had to be there.  But sometimes the best kids stories are the ones we make up on the spot.  Why not try it.

I read 'James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl as part of the Retro Reader Club which I signed up for recently.  It was fun to read and only took a couple of sessions.  I would so love to have been able to read it to someone.  I always fancied myself recording books for sight-impaired people, but you have to have some kind of a degree, so that's the end of that long held dream.  Back to James and the Giant Peach.  I'm glad Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker got what was coming to them.  Squashed, yup that's right the giant peach made sure they paid a mighty high price for the way they treated James.  But James was a brave little boy and as we all know 'goodness wins over evil' every time. 

In between reading kids books and making up stories I like to give myself a challenge.  I've recently re-read Pride and Prejudice by Miss Jane Austen.  Can you believe that I've read it twice?  For me anyway, the old world writing can be a bit over the top and I find I have to go back and read a paragraph, because I just don't get what they are trying to say.  Conversation back in the 1800's in England was rather dramatic even corny in places.  But that aside, oh how I would love to wear those clothes, go dancing at a beautiful mansion and feel like a princess. 

 Never any mention of the poor and suffering, I guess Miss Jane was protected from all that.  I'm now in the middle of reading Emma by Jane Austen. What's so good about these three books is that they were written during the life of the author and she lived from 1775 to 1817.  She was writing in actual time.  Apparently, in real life Jane loved to dance and these three books mention lots of dancing. I can tell you, I don't like the fact that back in them there days, women could not inherit the family home.  If there were no boys in the family the home went to the next in line like a cousin or nephew.  Just as long as it was a he and then he could banish the ladies from the house if he felt so inclined.  Thank goodness that doesn't happen these days.

Finally, I just like to put it out there that a follow up to Pride and Prejudice has been written by Colleen McCullough and it's called 'The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet'.  I loved this book and I love Colleen, read most of her books.

If you've read Pride and Prejudice you will remember that Mary Bennet (one of the sisters of Jane Bennet) didn't get much air play.  She was the quiet, bookwormy type not worth mentioning.  But Colleen has done the right thing by Mary, yes she has and given her a book with Mary as the star.  Colleen is a feisty writer quite the opposite of Jane Austen.  If you're not a fan of Jane Austen books you should still enjoy 'The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet'.  Colleen tackles real issues like poverty, love, sex, yes sex in a discriminate way of course, we are talking about 1800's here..  You won't get any mention of sex from Jane Austen, but she does refer to 'love making' but not in the terms as we would think of it, but rather meaning a couple chatting intimately.

Well, listen to me.  I sound like a book critique, which I am not.  I just like to share and seeing I love to read, I'm sharing some books.  More in a few days.  Now remember to come and see me.  Hope I haven't frightened you away.

PS.  Any spelling mistakes my DH will pick them up and make sure he points them out to me.  Thank goodness this post can be edited.  Cheers

22 September, 2011

Felt and Embroidery - Look What Can Be Achieved

My Kokeshi Dolls

Kokeshi Japanese dolls originate from northern Japan and are traditionally handmade from wood.  One of the main characteristics of kokeshi dolls is their lack of arms or legs.  I made these gals while I was laid up with the flu.  I really enjoyed the simplicity of working with felt, it is so easy to sew.  These dolls are entirely hand sewn, which was great because I could work quietly away, just me and my cold.

This would be a great craft

 for kids, lots of fun and easy.

A certain amount of imagination

works well and because they 

are hand made and hand sewn 

each doll is unique.  What's
double fun is that 

traditionally the artist

signs each doll.  Isn't that a 

great idea?

There are some great images of traditional Kokeshi dolls here.

Thank for visiting today, I hope you enjoyed this post, if you have a couple of minutes why not take a look at my other posts.

20 September, 2011

Does This Look Like Me

I don't know about you, but I think "Blue Bird" is not happy!!

BTW I've fired up the sewing machine, still trying to fire up me.  Hope you are all doing well.

19 September, 2011

Please Don't Forget Me

I've been a bit under the weather lately, but I so don't want anyone to forget me.  In the meantime can you all kindly.............................

for a day or two.  Cheers :0(

14 September, 2011

Japanese Temari - Thread Ornaments

September is my favourite time of the year, it heralds Spring, but it also means I get a cold.  Not just a cold kinda cold, but knock you off your socks kinda cold.  I usually end up with asthma and feeling crap.  I think I've talked myself into it this year as I'm no longer out in the workforce hence more time on my hands at home.

Japanese Temari made by Chris

Anyway, even with a bug I have still been able to find time to play with craft.  My friend Pam from gingerbreadsnowflakes put me onto this idea.  Her Japanese Temari thread balls here are much better, but remember I'm sick.  Pam has put a great tutorial together as well, it can be found here.  Pam also directed me via a link on her blog to which is dedicated to Japanese Temari art.

Japanese Temari made by Chris
My thread balls are quite basic, remember I'm sick and I just wanted something easy to do while feeling precious.  I just don't feel well enough to put too much effort into it.  Sorry Pam!!

Japanese Temari made by Chris
I made four all up over a couple of days.  I like the end result but remember they look nothing like the real thing, um well the concept is kinda there.

Completed and stored waiting for Christmas

The only thread ball I'm not keen on is the red one, but I think I was at my worst when I was decorating this one.  No matter- they will adorn my Christmas tree this year, you can bet on it.

By the way did I tell you I'm sick!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


13 September, 2011

Let's Celebrate Gene Kelly With Some Bunting

"I'm Singing in the Rain" is stuck in my head

When I heard that a bunch of crafty bloggers got together via Twitter and were keen to dedicate some of their crafty expertise to Gene Kelly in the form of a craft along, I said to myself - "I can do that, I love Gene Kelly".  It was only the other day I watched "Singing In the Rain".   I can't help myself, when someone announces a craft along, I want to be part of it even before I know what I will be in for.  
I heard it from Diane's blog - Crafty Pod.  If you want to be part of the craft along and or you'd like to find out more visit Crafty Pod, or these other crafters' blog posts.  Handmade by Alissa /   Say. See. Make. Do. / I Make Cute Stuff  /  Tara Swiger   / Average Jane Crafter     

Being a practical person, I wanted to make something that I would use.  I don't need another cushion, although I was very tempted.  How nice would Gene look on a comfy cushion.  I had "Make Bunting" on my 'To do list' since January so that's what I decided to do with Gene.  I hope he's okay with this.  I just love it.

Gene and bunting will be part of our family celebrations from now on.  Anyway, what do you think?  Got potential?  You can see more Gene Crafts on the flickr group here.