Friday 27 September 2013

stitched blooms blog tour and giveaway!

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I am really excited to be today's stop on Carina's blog tour for her wonderful new embroidery book Stitched Blooms!

I met Carina Envoldsen-Harris back in 2008, just six months into this blogging lark! We both joined up to a handprinted swatch swap on Jesse's blog, exchanged handprinted swatches and have been friends ever since.

Since then we have stayed in touch and continued to cheer each other on in all our crafty pursuits, despite the many miles between us - she lives in the UK and I'm in Australia.

Carina is talented in more than a few areas, but I've always especially admired her original embroidery and her distinctive colour sense. Carina's unique embroidery designs are somehow both modern and traditional, and showcase her Scandinavian roots. 

I posted way back in 2009 about my love for embroidery (and featured Carina's work amongst others in that post) and have a jampacked embroidery board on my pinterest page, but somehow I've never really got that far at doing some myself!

So not only is it a real honour to share this book with you, it has also been just the nudge I needed to really make a start at embroidering, to make a finished project.

Stitched Blooms is the perfect book to take you from early baby steps to more complex designs. It's very accessible and the great thing is that Carina gives you not only detailed instructions for some wonderful projects in the book, but also provides an extra 237 motifs on CD, for you to mix and match, size up and down depending on your project. All those lovely blooms to inspire!

To practice I started with two of these motifs, lovely leaf patterns, which I sized and positioned together. I used back stitch to outline these and found quickly I love the meditation of the stitching, its one of those perfect projects that you can do with half an eye while life spins around you.

Gaining confidence from my little leaves, but resolving to make my stitches smaller and more consistent, I moved on to the simple Pom-Pom Luminarie project from the book. Luckily I had all the embroidery threads and some white cotton fabric in my stash. Sadly no pompom trim (must change that!) but I used this cute mini rickrack I've been saving. It fits my little jar of quilting pins perfectly and looks so cute on the shelf. Switch it for a little battery tea light and you have a beautiful light source.

I love that embroidery is so quick and easy and inexpensive, yet it gives items a really unique and handmade quality which would be perfect for gifting. I'll definitely be doing more, in fact I'm starting to see the world in embroidery patterns this week. I can't wait to experiment, and try my hand at some other projects from the book. I can see some hand stitched Christmas presents in my future.

Carina's colours are always distinctive - clean and bright, without being overwhelming. I was so pleased to see the section on colour in the book where she explains colour theory in simple and interesting terms. Even better - for today's giveaway you get the chance to win a set of seven embroidery flosses in one of her beautiful colour palettes.

All you have to do to win is leave a comment below, international entries welcome. If you have time I'd love to know if you have embroidered before or whether you're a newbie or wannabee like me! I'll leave it open till Wednesday next week. Please leave a contact email address in your entry.

And if you have been wanting to get into embroidery, but something has always stopped you, this book could be the spark to start you on those first baby steps to making handsewn items to keep or give away. Hmmm, I'm just thinkin how sweet one of Carina's stitched blooms would look on a little white onesie for a new baby!

p.s. So happy my spotty fabric makes a little appearance in Carina's sewing pouch project above!

Tuesday 17 September 2013

mother's group lemon cake


I got this treasured recipe way back in 2001 from my mother's group friend Cathryn. So although my friends now call it Susie's Lemon Cake it reminds me of the days I first started making it, my early days of motherhood and my Mother's Group.

My copy of the recipe still exists in a printout of the email Cathryn sent me back in June 2001. At the time I was juggling newborn twins and a three year old. They were fantastic, amazing, difficult times!

The message always makes me smile, it reads:

Dear Susie,

Where once there were dance parties now there are Tupperware parties, and you know you are really on the slippery slope of motherhood and approaching middle age she you start swapping cake recipes... But perhaps the saddest thing of all is enjoying the descent!

love Cathryn

I had such a fantastic mother's group. It was one of the things that kept me sane and with a sense of humour through those crazy times of having three kids in three years.

Fifteen years later I'm still close friends with some of the women from the group. I had afternoon tea with Michelle last week, one of my mother's group friends who I met initially at Prenatal classes!

My only advice to new mothers (really, unless they ask) is always to join a mother's group. I say it because I almost missed out on mine. I didn't think it would be my thing. I went to my first meeting reluctantly but came away a convert.

In my Mother's Group I found unconditional support and the sort of information you never find in books. We learnt about parenting together, taking turns in sleep hell and slowly workshopping our way through breastfeeding, bathing, toilet training, discipline, toddler food and play. Most of all we laughed and cried together through the good and bad times.

But back to the lemon cake recipe, a real favourite in this house... Cathryn's version was in imperial measures but I've also shown the metric equivalents I bake with.

Mother's Group Lemon Cake

4 oz (110g) butter
4oz (110g) self raising flour
40z (110g)caster sugar
2 eggs
1 oz (30g) ground almonds
1 Tbsp lemon curd
zest of a lemon

1 oz (30g) caster sugar
juice of half a lemon.

Grease 20cm springform cake tin and line base with baking paper.  Preheat oven to 160C.
Blend butter and sugar and then beat in eggs and all other ingredients.
Put batter in tin and put cake in oven.
Cook 10 minutes at 160 C (320F), then 30 mins at 150C (300) (I do 35 mins)
Turn off heat and leave in oven for 5 minutes
Mix topping and pour over top of cake whilst cake is still hot. (Don't miss the topping, it makes the cake.)
Bake, eat, enjoy.

I'm adding this recipe to my new Cooking & Recipes page where you can find all the recipes I've shared over the years in one place. Both my own recipes and some I've enjoyed cooking of other people's.

p.s. The cake colours go well with my new Belinda Marshall print, don't you think?!
p.p.s. The blog tour for Carina's new embroidery book Sitched Blooms starts today. I'm last stop next week but will be watching along all the beautiful spots along the way.

Thursday 12 September 2013

three year plan


The other night I went along to my second ABCD social meetup, close to home at the Three Weeds pub in Rozelle. I also signed up for the goodie bag and took along some Ruby Slippers cards to share, 28 of them!

To see some (better) pictures of the night and the contents of the goodie bags (treasure!) do visit the lovely Steph at her Bondville blog. Steph and Lisa (the red thread) are the generous organisers of the ABCD catchups.

There is something wonderful about being in the company of creative types. That unspoken understanding of the need to make, create and surround oneself with beautifully made things. Its always a great chance to share inspiration and information with like minds.

We were asked to come with thoughts about our three year plan to share in small discussion groups during the night. A simple enough topic but one which made me really aware of my lack of a one week plan, let alone three years!

Saffron Craig chaired our little group which also included Cath from Prints Charming. Both inspiring women for a fledgeling fabric designer like me. Each person then shared their big dreams and their small ones, finishing with me, and while I fumbled out some vague plans, I resolved to go home and really think about what I want to do. Get a plan! It made me wonder too if I'm guilty of exploring too many creative paths, maybe its time to choose a single direction. Hmm, not sure I can do that!

Anyway, making fabric remains a major goal of mine, and despite appearances I have been productive, see sneaky peek above. I have some new fabrics to share, just no time to make anything from them or take photos! All that is about to change. I think its time to show you what I've been up to and I feel some scrap packs coming, I do love a scrap pack!

And after all, spring is here and my sixth blogging anniverary approaches! Amazing!

p.s. a rare selfie with lovely girls Lamina and Sheryl.

Tuesday 3 September 2013


daysdaysdaysdaysdaysbricks printbricks print

I'm still here, and getting back to the creative stuff which I'll blog soon, but in the meantime here are some pretty pictures from the last week. 

•  Seedlings gifted from an old friend who's newish business brings gardens to underprivileged schools. Such a great thing.

•  Lunch in Summer Hill with some lovely bloggy mates. So good to talk shop, craft, make, life and I'm looking forward to the ABCD winter meetup this week.

•  Zone athletics carnival two days last week, so exciting, a third ribbon for D and J's relay team made it to the Regional level, which is tomorrow!

•  More late winter spring surprises.

•  Ms A won the lolly guessing competition at school! Now to 'borrow' that great big jar from her!

•  A computer hiccup saw my printer sent me yardage of the Bricks print in this teeny tiny scale. Isn't it cute! I've put it in the shop at a discounted price, along with new stocks of the popular small scale print, and the large scale too. Now to think of a project that uses all three!

• ... speaking of which, a new baby arrived in the extended family over the weekend, a little boy! I just love how technology and social media saw us all able to share in the excitement from near and far. Welcome dear little Sid!!