25 January 2015

Sail Boat Block {Tutorial}

I’ve been working on a secret squirrel project, which means that I can’t show more than a sneaky little peek. It’s a fun project for a little boy and I will share it very soon, but until then, I thought I’d share a quick little tutorial on how to make this sail boat block.

These measurements will make a 12” (finished) Sail Boat Block.

22 January 2015

Cross Stitch Antique Style Samplers {REVIEW}

To celebrate Jane Greenoff's 30th year of stitching, this new edition of her classic best-selling book, Cross Stitch Antique Style Samplers, includes three new sampler charts, an extended stitch library and a Madeira thread conversion chart.

Jane Greenoff uses her own historical sampler collection as the inspiration for over 30 unique antique style cross stitch designs so that you can begin to create a collection of your very own.


Cross Stitch Antique Style Samplers


Each project chapter is inspired by a popular sampler style.

Samplers were traditionally used to teach young girls a variety of skills: darning samplers improved mending skills while alphabet samplers helped with literacy and samplers with improving mottoes instilled morality.


Cross Stitch Antique Style Sampler - 1


Band and spot motif samplers were used to record the stitches the girls had learned.

Many of the designs within Cross Stitch Antique Style Samplers are complemented by additional counted thread stitches to encourage an extension of your stitching repertoire.


Cross Stitch Antique Style Sampler - 2



Cross Stitch Antique Style Samplers will inspire you to work on Jane’s designs, and then move forward and create your own.

My sister is an avid cross-stitcher and has used this book to create her own alphabet style sampler. I’ll be sure to share her project once it’s finished. Even in it’s half finished state, it’s looking beautiful.

Cross Stitch Antique Style Samplers by Jane Greenoff is available from Booktopia and Can Do Books.


Cross Stitch Antique Style Sampler - 3

Pretty Little… {REVIEW + GIVEAWAY}

The “Pretty Little” series of books from Lark Crafts are just delightful and I’ve been lucky enough to have a little look through Pretty Little Presents, Pretty Little Cozies, Pretty Little Patchwork and Pretty Little Potholders

Have a look at the end of this post for your chance to win one of these Pretty Little Books...

If books can be classed as fun, these surely are it! They’re packed full of cute little projects to create and are perfect for just about any sewing skill level. Beginners will get a lot out of this book with well explained terms and skills and more advanced sewists will enjoy creating fun projects for themselves, or to give to friends and

19 January 2015

Back to School - Growing Minds

Sponsored by Officeworks

Christmas is over and the festive season has all been packed away for another year. Some families head away for their annual caravan or camping holidays whilst others enjoy day trips and just hanging out with family and friends locally. Whatever we do, we’ve all been enjoying the long, hot lazy summer school break.

I am one of those strange parents who actually LOVE school holidays and having my kids at home with me. Sadly though, the school holidays are coming to an end. Only a week to go before the alarms need to be set, school uniforms sorted, lunches prepared, homework, school readers and after school activities decided upon.

In NSW (and most other states in Australia), the school term begins next week and so this is THE week to get organised. There is nothing worse than rushing about after Australia Day, trying to find everything the kids need to go back to school.

School Supplies

I love school shopping. I always have. I can remember being about 12 years old and heading to my local shopping centre with my best friend to choose my new pencil case, notebooks, scented pens etc. It was such fun and I still enjoy the school shopping. Admittedly, I can’t resist shopping for them, without adding a few items for myself into the basket… like a pack of pretty paperclips or some cute sticky notes or a new tape dispenser.

Many school have a list of items required for each grade. My suggestion is to buy “extras” of the items which will get used up quickly, or invariably lost.  Things like glue sticks or crayons. This is the best time to stock up on these types of items, at great prices.


Staedtler Twist Crayons 12 Pack (RRP $4.68)

If you’re not a fan of school shopping, Officeworks offer the School List Service.
  1. Drop off your school list now to your local Officeworks store.
  2. They’ll pack your items free of charge.
  3. They’ll call or SMS you when it's ready to collect.


Hats, lunch boxes, sharpeners, library bags… things will get misplaced or lost. It’s annoying, but they’re kids and playing at lunchtime is way more important than worrying about where they may have left their drink bottles.

Some items come with a space to write your child’s details - like the ELC library bags (pictured below). If you haven’t yet, buy a label maker. It is the most handy item when it comes to labelling your child’s things for school. I have one those ones where you can change the tape to the fabric, iron-on variety which means the machine can be used for plastic drink bottles as well as school hats or uniforms.

ELC Library Bags – RRP $4.98

Homework is a fact of life!

When it comes to homework, my kids have had it easy. Junior primary school has meant that they've only needed to read each evening. At the start it was a school reader, but as they get older, 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' has become the reading material of choice. This year, my boy will be in year 4 which means that homework will become a nightly routine… for at least the next 8 years.

Getting kids to do their homework doesn't have to be painful. A little organisation and keeping to a routine will make this necessary part of school-life, easier.

Having the necessary supplies, ready to go at home, is a great start. We've always done school readers at the kitchen bench (while I prepare dinner) or any homework at the dining table. As they get older, a desk is a great place to keep all of their things organised and it’s the space where they can sit quietly and concentrate on the job at hand.

Paddington Kids Desk – RRP $49

After School Activities

A lot of kids enjoy after school activities. Mine have participated in a range of different activities. Ballet, gymnastics, soccer, karate and swimming. The sad truth is that when one child is participating in their after school activity, they other/s usually has to sit on the side and wait. Sure, they could probably participate too, but if you’re like me with a boy and a girl, they like to stick to their own thing. I could never convince my son to do ballet and my daughter hated the thought of doing karate.

The trick to keeping the waiting child calm is to have something for them to do while waiting. It’s easy to pass them our phones to play with, but hey, we need those phone to play Candy Crush while waiting too. Right?

Bring along snacks and water bottles – this is an absolute necessity because waiting kids are ALWAYS hungry kids. Bring along a scrap book and pencils. Encourage them to draw their surroundings.


Studymate MegaMonster Premium Scrapbook – RRP $0.88

And if they really, REALLY want your phone or tablet, Officeworks has introduced the Growing Minds App which features fun, learning games for primary and secondary students. I’ve downloaded this app to my phone and my little lady has been enjoying playing the games suited to her age group.

Do you have any good tips for getting kids "back to school" ready?


Officeworks is encouraging local residents to help children in need succeed in the 2015 school year by supporting its Back to School Appeal for The Smith Family children’s charity, who help disadvantaged young Australians to get the most out of their education. 

During the Appeal, which runs from January 1 to February 15, customers can go in-store and buy a stationery donation card, write their name on it and place it in the store’s display to show their support. Alternately, donations can be made at the register or online at A National Fundraising Day on February 12 will see all 153 Officeworks stores host various fun activities for the local community.

Another year older

It was my birthday yesterday. It was a big "0" birthday and this morning, I'm certainly feeling older. Perhaps it was from such a busy weekend.

FlyBoy treated me to a weekend in the city to do all of the things that I wanted to do. 

Things like eating unusual foods which I wouldn't normally have at home with fussy kids.

We caught a ferry and had a beautiful day in Manly. This was my first time on a Sydney ferry and I kept thinking, gee the kids would love this. We will certainly have to plan a family "ferry" outing soon.

I took a tonne of photos on the boat. FlyBoy was just waiting for me to say "whoops", I've dropped my phone in Sydney Harbour. Luckily, I wasn't my usual klutzy self, and managed to keep it in my possession.

And what is a trip to the city without stopping in at Daiso for a fill of cuteness?

I'm really looking forward to playing with that covered button making kit. I bought a packet of spares too, just in case I'm really inspired. I don't normally use buttons in my projects, but that's probably because I've never covered my own buttons... right?

We headed home on Sunday morning. It was the Illawarra Folk Festival and we (and the whole train) were treated to some entertainment in the carriage, by a folk band heading to the festival. Accordions, drums, violins and singing. 

It wasn't something you see (or hear) everyday, but I think it was a lovely birthday treat - just for me.