Thursday, 23 November 2017

US trip: the beginning

In my last couple of posts I've briefly mentioned an overseas trip... well, we've now been back for almost two weeks so I thought I better write about it before I forget all the details!

Monterey, California, from Point Lobos State Reserve
After our Spain trip last year, Al and I started thinking about where we wanted to visit next, and the US was in both of our sights. So earlier this year we started the dreaming... and planning... and booking. A dream for Al (and I quickly started to share it) was to see a major freeride/mountain bike event—Red Bull Rampage—so our holiday planning was centred around that. Only issue was that other than knowing it would be in October, it took checking the Red Bull website daily to find the actual dates. And then knowing the dates didn't guarantee tickets! That took an early morning alarm (4am!) and quick internet skills to secure. More about the actual event in a later post though!

Point Lobos State Reserve
With our agenda locked in, and a number of exciting events to look forward along the way, we arrived in the US early on Thursday 18 October. The plan: drive across the United States in three weeks. Yep, we know—we're crazy.

After lengthy delays trying to get out of LAX, we ended up changing our connecting flight to San Francisco to a flight to nearby San Jose. Our first two nights would be spent with Al's childhood mate Glenn—an excellent host and guide while we were in that part of the country.

Al and Glenn, Point Lobos State Reserve 
After a good night's rest, Glenn took us for a drive to Monterey and Big Sur. The scenery was absolutely incredible and our camera's got a good working out. Monterey is the home of the Monterey Pine, or Pinus Radiata as Al informed us. Apparently this is the most common pine for building and construction... well, I think that's what we were being told (I was mainly just nodding during my lesson on trees)!!

Pinus Radiata, aka Monterey Pine (aka, trees... tall trees)
After a drive down to Big Sur, and quite a few more photos, we headed back to Monterey for margaritas and some amazing Mexican food.

Big Sur, California
I'd tell you more about the drive back to Glenn's place but I'm pretty sure I was asleep in the back seat of the car for most of it.

More on the trip next time x

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Snow-much fun

The week after Sofia's birthday we heading to the snow fields. We booked in accommodation earlier in the year, and as it turned out we couldn't have picked a better weekend!

We were there for three days, and two of those were perfect weather. I organised a lesson for myself and the kids on the second day we were there, although unfortunately that ended up being the coldest day. Poor Sofia just got too cold and didn't want to continue after around 20 minutes. But the next day, with the sun out, she was all smiles again.

I wasn't sure how Alex would go with the ski lesson but was pleasantly surprised. He kept with it, and was so proud to see how well he did and so happy watching him enjoying it so much! The only way to get him into the car at the end of the day was to promise him another go the next day...

Alex and I on the chairlift... he was so excited!

But then the next day we didn't have another day up our sleeves to promise him... so he miserably climbed into the car to head back home. I think we'll have to take him back next year!

I first tried skiing a couple of years before Alex was born—and only for a couple of hours! So this was pretty much my first decent attempt at the sport. Between my lesson and some patience from Al who also gave me some one-on-one lessons, by the end of the three days I was feeling pretty good about my new-found skills... albeit rather tired and with very sore muscles!

We're not sure if we'll manage to get to the slopes again before the last of snow disappears as we're now are in saving-mode for our upcoming overseas trip... more about that soon!

Until next time x

Saturday, 9 September 2017

My Princess Sofia

I can't believe how much time has past since I last posted! Al and I are going overseas soon, so between usual routines with kids and work, I've been researching and preparing for that. However, I do have something I haven't yet shared with you...

My baby girl turned 4 last month... Four! Can you believe it? I barely can. And all she wanted was a Princess Sofia (from Disney's Sofia the First) dress. As I couldn't find one in the shops, I decided that I'd attempt to make one and make it an extra-special birthday gift.

Using a picture from the internet, I decided to simply modify the Butterick dress pattern that I used in April, as this was a really easy pattern to follow and I knew it would fit Sofia. I added some simple cap sleeves, added some length and a white under-layer to the skirt (which I finished off with some purple ribbon, scalloped the edges of the upper-skirt, added some applique and embellishments... and ta-da! I'm pretty happy with the final result. And so was Sofia, which of course is the main thing!

Sofia had a party with her little friends from child-care the week before her actual birthday. Ahead of that I made up some simple shoulder bags to be used as party-bags... They took an afternoon to cut the fabric, and then once I got going at the sewing machine I got all 10 little bags done in an evening.

The girls were all so excited when they got their little bags at the party! And Sofia placed each one over her friends' heads as though she was awarding them with a prize... ah, she's a funny little thing.

Until next time x

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Nap mat for Alex

What I thought would be a weekend project turned out to take three weekends... plus another two weeks to photograph and blog about!

I can't remember when I bought the Curiosities & Mischief book (by Nancy Halvorsen) but I do remember it was the 'nap mats' that convinced me to buy it. Something between a quilt and a sleeping bag, but either way a cosy and useful project to make for the kids.

After being inspired by a sample pack of Cinderberry Stitches 'Greatest Adventure' fabric range, I decided this would be perfect for a nap mat for Alex. So after my full fabric order arrived I couldn't wait to get started...

As I said above... Three weekends later and it was finally done! It wasn't so much that it was time consuming but rather my time was constantly consumed by other things! The instructions in the book were relatively easy to follow, I just needed to convert from 'yards' to 'meters' when ordering the fabric. I chose to hand stitch the binding down so this slowed things down too.

I'm so happy with the final product though! And Alex seems thrilled with it. Sofia is eager to get hers—I've bought the fabric, just need to get started.

Until next time x

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

A bunch of birthdays

The first few months of the year is full of birthdays for our family... Starting with mine in January, ending with my Mum's in April and in the middle somewhere was Al and Alex. Plus a few more thrown in for good luck!

Al and his sisters who visited as a birthday surprise
Al and I both celebrated significant birthdays so combined and had one big celebration. The idea started as an 80's party, but ended up being a cocktail party—Al organised the music and got the yard ready, I did the catering and got the cocktail menus and 'making station' set up, and the guests brought the alcohol! Rain in the lead up to the party had us fairly anxious but in the end it was a great party. Unfortunately we forgot to get many photos during the night, but the memories will live forever :)

One of the few photos taken at our cocktail party... 
Immediately after Al and my combined party, I turned my attention to organising Alex's 6th party. Last year he had a simple home get-together with some friends, so this year I agreed to his request to go to an indoor play centre for his party. I honestly don't know why I didn't agree to this type of party before!! Out of around 6 party rooms all of different themes, Alex chose the 'space' room... and then other than inviting his friends and making the cake, there wasn't much I needed to do! The staff were great, the party was completely catered, and best of all—no clean up for me!!

I could have ordered a cake but making the the kids' birthday cakes is a tradition I've been enjoying doing. Following the space theme, Alex chose a space-ship... so after consulting Pinterest for some ideas, I came up with a design. An easy Thermomix chocolate cake and some store-bought icing (ok, so I cheated a bit!)... and just like that, a space-ship cake was created.

Some candles in the base as blasters, and I had a very happy birthday boy. Can't believe my little man is already six years old!!!

Until next time x

Saturday, 29 April 2017

A couple of small projects...

I was reminded a few days ago that it's been a while since I last posted here! While sometimes weeks (and months) go by and I don't post because I have nothing to share, this is not actually the case this time... I have a couple of finished (yes, finished!) projects that I'm yet to share here, it's just been finding time.

First off, I needed an excuse to have play with my new sewing machine. I'd been meaning on practicing my dressmaking skills and making Sofia a dress pretty much since I knew I was expecting a little girl... but for whatever reason I'd never got around to. I found a pattern I purchased a while ago, some fabric from my stash and got cutting and sewing.

I used Butterick B4172 pattern in size 2 (with adjustments for Sofia's weight and height), and the fabric is a cotton from Tilda Quilt Collection by Aimee Dove White. I'm pretty happy with the result, although next time I make this dress I'll finish off the seams a bit better. I recently hemmed some pants and played around with different overseam stitches on my machine given I don't have an overlocker.

I then got started on a small project I've been wanting to do for a while... the 'Zippered Case' from The Simple Life book by Anni Downs. It took a few sessions of stitching the main design and cutting the little squares out. I was struggling with my big cutting ruler for such tiny squares so headed to my local sewing store with a voucher my step-sons gave me for Christmas and invested in a smaller one!

And before I knew it, it was done! Hemming pants, fixing Alex's bunny, making a bunting for a party we had (to celebrate both my and Al's birthdays), and some other odd jobs has kept me sewing but nothing else really worthy of sharing.

The kids watching me make a card for my mum's birthday
My work should calm down soon, and with the cooler weather and shorter days my poor bike will be getting less attention.. I'm hoping this will mean when I'm not busying myself with the kids, I'll have more time to stitch, hopefully do some hand-quilting, and of course update my blog with my progress!

Until next time x

Saturday, 11 February 2017

A new decade, a new machine

A bit over three weeks ago I turned 30... the start of a new decade! On reflection of my twenties, I can't believe how much happened. The years were quite eventful, starting with my first move to Canberra just before turning 20. I completed two degrees, started my career in the public service, had my two beautiful children, moved overseas and back to Australia, bought property (and sold property), travelled, and so much more.

With my beautiful children, November 2016
I'm roughly were I had hoped I would be by the time I turned 30, with the only real unexpected impacts to my life things that were ultimately out of my control... and with the advantage of hindsight really good for me. I enter my 30s with an amazing family, a wonderful partner, a promising career, and a comfortable life. I've had some challenging times which have made me stronger and grateful for all the good in my life... and now I find myself happier than I could have imagined.

Al and I in Spain, April 2016
For my 20th birthday my beautiful mother gave me my first sewing machine (I think this was mainly so that I wouldn't take her machine with me when I moved to Canberra!). My Janome 6019 has been a faithful friend and a great machine which has served me well... together we've created so many projects and I can't think of a time it ever gave me any issues. Then, about five years ago I discovered the Husqvarna Opal machines and fell in love... a smooth machine, with automatic needle up/down function, scissor function, wider neck ideal for quilting... but the price, just a tad more than my Janome and outside my budget at the time. So I decided I'd save up, and give myself the machine for my 30th birthday.

Late last year I went into my local sewing shop and, as I often did, went around to see the sewing machines. And there it was... my dream machine, but a slightly upgraded new release at an introductory price! A lay-by was started and a week before I turned 30 I brought my baby home. Welcome little Husqvarna Opal 690Q to our family. I shall call you... Opal :)

I've decided to keep my old and faithful Janome. She'll be my second machine ideal for when I do a class or if Opal goes in for a service. I'm also hopeful that in the coming years Sofia might show an interest in sewing and the Janome would be perfect for her to learn on... I was probably around 5 when mum first taught me to sew (and simple square bags galore did I make!).

Looking forward to sharing with you some projects with my new baby... I've already started a dress for Sofia, however it was a bit wide so I need to take it in a bit and then attach the zipper.

Until next time x