Friday, 28 October 2011

Halloween on Parade

With only 3 days to go until All Hallows Eve, I was able to finish the binding on both single bed quilts today. You may have read my posts back in July when I pieced the quilts. Earlier this month I had them professionally quilted.

Bats on Parade
Jack-o-lanterns on Parade

The detail is just so whimsical...with bats, stars, swirls and even some phrases like 'trick or treat', 'boo' and 'spooky', using variegated thread. Judy has done another outstanding job.

applique detail

quilting detail

My mum also did the blanket stitching around the jack-o-lanterns and bats for me...bless her. Maybe she will do my quilt labels for me as well. She has an embroidery function on her machine and it does script.

sewing in the ditch to catch the back side of the binding...lots of pins!

This time I used the sewing machine to sew all of the binding...both front and back. I followed a binding tutorial from Red Pepper Quilts and was so surprised to learn that she does not do any hand stitching for her bindings. To sew the back, she sews the front in the ditch and catches the back of the binding on the back. Thankfully, she did mention that this takes a bit of practice as i had many spots where I missed completely and had to re-sew.

I can't say that I found it faster than hand stitching the back ( I did miss out on that time sewing in front of the tv), but I'd say that it would get easier each time. It's nice to learn different methods in quilting.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

High Tea

Two weeks ago our church hosted a 'High Tea' to fundraise for Breast Cancer Research. I made some gluten and dairy-free nibbles and helped out with serving. 
After the event, which raised over $500, I had about 210 cups, saucers and plates to hand wash. Not really a chore for me because these were the gorgeous porceline gold rimmed tea sets of my mother's generation.  Each one was unique and I'd never seen so many in the one place was vintage delight.
My mother has a crazy tea set...mostly floral and none of them matching. It was the fashionable thing to have different prints. Last year she was decluttering and I was able to choose some to keep for myself. So I chose these two gorgeous retro art deco and non-floral sets.

Not all tea sets from this era have the three pieces...they are hard to come by to purchase thesedays. But I love them. 

I haven't had these out to use yet...reserved for special tea drinking friends I guess, however, my everyday tea set is gorgeous too. It have many pieces from the Maxwell & Williams "Australian Botanticals" series featuring my favourite flowers in the world. 
About 15 years ago, a friend's mum, knowing my love for a 'pot of tea' she gave me her vintage 'Calico' two cup tea pot. I still have that tea pot and love to use it to make real leaf tea. 
My larger tea pot is a plain white Maxwell & Williams 4 cup capacity. I was able to purchase the cutest crocheted tea cosy for it last year. Appropriate for Halloween I guess.
I still keep my eye out for vintage tea sets when I go to op-shops but I think collectors snap them up before they hit the shelves. I could always collect some more of the floral ones my mum has I guess.
I do think that the world is made for coffee drinkers. At cafes it is rare to be served leaf tea in a pot or a china cup for that matter. I'd rather go home and make my own cup of tea instead.

Cuppa anyone?

Monday, 24 October 2011

Meal Planning Mondays

Seeing that I have been learning how to organise through Laura's site I thought that I might take up another of her challenges and join the Meal Planning Monday culture. I'm not sure how I will go.

Got to love Ikea for the shelving and box items that keep things together
So today (being Monday already in Australia) I sat down and planned my 4th week of meals with my new system. I looked through my pantry at what I already had in the way of sauces, cans etc. and my fridge in the way of vegetables (bag of carrots, 2 half capsicums, bag of mushrooms, 1 lebanese cucumber, 7 potatoes, 2 sweet potatoes and a cauliflower.

Here's what I came up with:

I also got around to mounting some menus onto cardboard to try a new system that my friend Bria uses. I bought a simple letter rack to use to store these in my pantry next to the meal planning board.

Simply cut an A4 piece of cardboard into two to make 2 x A5 cards. Cut out and mount magazine or online recipes onto the card (mine are double sided). You can even colour code your cards. So far my chicken recipes are all on yellow cards. I think I will laminate these once I get a few more done.

Here's Monday's bolognaise in the pan...

Disguised with 8 vegetables plus more for my 3 children - ( I use a hand-held food processor to chop most of the vegetables finely enough to look like part of the sauce and mince.)

My V8 Bolognaise Sauce is made with....

500g beef mince (enough for another meal to freeze!)
1 med onion
1 large garlic clove
2 grated carrots
2 grated zuchinis
1/4 cauliflower chopped finely
4 large mushrooms chopped finely
1/2 red capsicum chopped finely
1 can diced tomato
1 can of red kidney beans chopped finely
1 bottle pasta sauce
dash of red wine
fresh basil, Italian parsley, oregano and chives chopped finely

Serve with parmesan cheese and spaghetti.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Declutter #6 Clothing

When seasons change, it is opportune time to go through the wardrobe and clear out clothes and shoes that will not see another season. Last week I started putting away our Winter clothes and brought out the next size in Summer clothes. 

I also went through my husband's underwear drawer and turfed out many many sad undies and singlets (seeing he got a enough replacements a month ago for Father's Day). I calculated that some of the singlets must have been about 8 years old!

Now a man's underwear drawer does not make for a pretty photograph, however I did move on to decluttering the tall boy in each of my children's rooms as well. So these are my boy's undies, singlets and socks drawers. I sorted through everyone's socks and threw many out. I also rationalised all of the underpants and cut them by half. My oldest boy has all plain undies and the youngest has patterned. This makes sorting easier on wash days.

I find drawers quite nebulous...things go in and get buried with no order. Recently I purchased some drawer dividers from Ikea. They have really helped to compartmentalise each of the drawers and find those sets and items.

pyjama drawer - after
pyjama drawer - before (some winter polar fleece capes were in this drawer)

singlets and tights - before
singlets and tights - after

Meal Planning

I've never really been too good at planning our meals in advance. Lately I have noticed that my repetoire of dinner dishes has become really narrow. I was bemoaning this fact to some friends 2 months ago in the hopes that we could all get together once a month to try out new recipes together...but that idea didn't go down so well. 

I decluttered the fridge door during the holidays
However, the most skilled chef among my friends, must have heard my desperation and organised to come around to show me how she organises her weekly meals and grocery shopping. She has great ideas and could write her own organising blog or book but is too humble and probably too busy with 3 kids and a family business.

This was my first week of ideas.

After planning my first week of meals my girlfriend then had a bit of a look through my pantry and said "You need to start here instead. You have so much food already!" So after she left, I re-jigged my meals. I can happily report that our family is now eating it's way through the pantry and freezer items.

I swapped noticeboards with my kids and put this one inside the pantry door.  I have since made some of the features un-erasable with the use of a permanent marker.

 Kid's Gallery

A steady stream of artwork comes home from school and Preschool, particularly with my my two youngest children.  Most are big enough for wrapping paper but thankfully some of the pieces are small enough to display on the fridge.

I  have also clipped A4 pieces to the wall in the kitchen. One display folder for each of my children.

I also put some new artwork into matching frames.

Other artwork is found scattered around the house.

Eventually I will get around to sorting through the basketful of other artwork that hasn't made it to the walls or fridge.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Foreigners

We all have them. Things in our house that don't belong. They either need a new home to be found for them OR they need to be returned to their original home. 

Laura Wittman author of  'Clutter Rehab', collects these all and puts them on her "I'm Out of Here!" shelf near the front door. 

My book basket sits on the bedside table

As we rent, I can't add a shelf to the walls, but for now I am using the drawer of a retro stool near our front door. It will do for now, but I may use a larger box soon.

Both the box and CPU are supposed to travel to work with my husband this week.

I have started collecting the 'foreigners' and placing them either in the drawer or under the stool.

I am happy to say that the Susie Poole children's books were returned to the MOPS library today. The 'Feelings' 4 pack of books by Trace Moroney and the two teaching series tapes were donated to the MOPS library too. Alas I still have my friend's salad bowl (in a safer place)...perhaps I will just invite her and her family over for a BBQ lunch again this weekend!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Hidden Hangers

My kids came to dress-ups later than most. I have known children who will wear a Spiderman or Princess outfit 24/7, that's out and about and even to bed! Some parents have to bribe/coax their children out of their costumes just to wash them. I have two school-aged sons, and a 3 year old daughter in Preschool. It wasn't until my daughter hit 2, that dressing up became popular. My oldest, a son with Asperger's Syndrome still doesn't see the point unless it is Bookweek.

We have a lot of accessories that easily get lost in our larger dress-ups box. Most of them have been made by my lovely English friend De, who has a small business in the Blue Mountains near Sydney.

I used coat hangers, with some ribbon, to hang my daughter's collection of wings, gumnut hats and fairy dresses. Initially I hung these on the front of her bedroom door.

But it made things look cluttered. Then I found some great over-the-door hangers and re-hung things on the back of the door.

 I moved the raincoats and umbrellas from my bag rack to the back of the laundry door.

Then I put the backs of other doors to good use too!

My bags on the back of the main bedroom
Boy's dress ups

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Lego Declutter

Yes...once again I spent some of the school holidays playing and sorting out Lego with my children. If you remember my last post in July 2011, I managed to sort the Lego into containers and labeled the tops. 

Since then the NEW Ikea catalogue for 2012 came out and I spotted some storage items that I thought could suit the Lego better. They are called RETUR and come in a handy 2 pack for only $10. They also come in a deeper bin as well.

So we bought 3 of the twin packs and 2 of the larger ones just to see if they would work...and I am so pleased with them that I will definitely buy more next time we hit Ikea in Brisbane.

I also photographed the blocks and created laminated labels for easy reference. So far it is working with the kids putting things away.

Alas school returns tomorrow and so today was spent getting ready the school clothes, polishing shoes, signing of notes and replenishing of stationery items.

and a bit of a tidy up!

I also decluttered the bag rack and hat hooks. From this...

to this... 

and made them personal.