About Me

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With the help of my friends, I co-ordinate "The Craft Group" which is a place for women to gather and do craft! We share a whole range of things, from craft to the small things that matter to us right up to understanding the whole meaning of life! I learn so much from everyone, I thought a blog would be the perfect way to record the memories! The "Plus..." is all about extra bits 'n pieces that I have found and would love to show you. Welcome to our Craft Group. Please feel free to say hi, leave a comment or become a follower! Enjoy!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Happy Holidays

I am going to give myself a little break from blogging until the 7th January.
I am telling my kids to cut down on 'screen time', so I thought I'd do the same myself.

If you are in Southern Hemisphere, enjoy the lazy summer days. If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, stay warm, stay cosy and enjoy some candle lit evenings!

See you soon...


Need a fun holiday sewing project? Make some Pyjama eaters for your kids' bedrooms. They might just find it fun to tidy away their PJ's each morning!
You can find the pattern and tutorial here at 'sew fearless'

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Home made pizza.

How was your Christmas?
Ahhh, time to sit back and do a bit of serious relaxing. (or dream of relaxing).
This is a nice time of year for some good "Slow Food" (as opposed to the fast foods we consumed the week before Christmas when everything was so busy!)

At our house we love a home made pizza night and it goes like this...

I gather up some basic pizza topping ingredients... lebanese bread, cooked chicken, cabanossi, crumbled mince, capsicum, pineapple, tomato paste, bbq sauce, mozzarella and tasty cheese, avocado, mushrooms, fired bacon and pretty much whatever leftovers I have in the fridge. some 'volunteers' help dice everything up and put it into lots of little bowls. 2 bowls of the same thing at either end of a big table is helpful.

We have 2 tiles, one is a round pizza tile which I once found on our Craft Group "Swap Shop" and the other is a matt finish floor tile we bought for super cheap at a tile shop (actually, from memory, he gave it to me for nix when I told him what I wanted it for. It fits perfectly on one shelf in my oven. I put these in the oven and heat the oven before we start.

We all sit at the table and thank God for the fantastic food we are about to savour! Then we go in pairs and put whatever we want on half a piece of lebanese bread. If both people share the same taste, they can make one pizza for 2, or if they want something different, they just make their half the way they like it. On the day I took photos we used smaller breads but we like the larger, thinner lebanese bread more.

As soon as it is finished, they slide their pizza into the hot oven onto the tile. This is possible using a big pizza sized egg flipper thing and a pair of tongs. then we sit and wait and nibble maybe on some of the raw vegies on the table and chat. after 10 minutes those 2 pizzas are ready and 4 people can start eating 9and share with the other hungry ones) while more pizzas are placed in the oven.
Yum. A really cosy night with lots of time to laugh and chat... and eat.

Monday, 26 December 2011

What is Boxing Day?

I hope you had a lovely day yesterday! 

My family went to Church in the morning and then went to my Mum and Dad's for lunch and and a laid back few hours which was nice. The night before, we all gathered with my side of the family and had a lovely get together at my sisters house. All 20 of us. We arrived home at 11pm I think, and had a lovely time. So Christmas day was a bit milder with only 9 of us!

Then we went home to pick up my Christmas pudding icecream and hot Caramel sauce which I had made (I'll share it with you for next year!)
Then we went off for another lovely family gathering with Mark's side of the family for the evening. I think there were 28 of us there. The family and food were really something to be thankful for all this weekend!

In case you are wondering what you are supposed to do on "Boxing Day", I did some research for you which I found here on 'fact monster'. Just in case someone asks you about Boxing Day, you are maybe more knowledgable now...

Boxing Day

Traditional English holiday extends Christmas giving

by David Johnson

Some historians say the holiday developed because servants were required to work onChristmas Day, but took the following day off. As servants prepared to leave to visit their families, their employers would present them with gift boxes.Despite its name, Boxing Day, which is celebrated on December 26 in Great Britain, has nothing to do with pugilistic competition. Nor is it a day for people to return unwanted Christmas presents. While the exact origins of the holiday are obscure, it is likely that Boxing Day began in England during the Middle Ages.

Church Alms Boxes

Another theory is that the boxes placed in churches where parishioners deposited coins for the poor were opened and the contents distributed on December 26, which is also the Feast of St. Stephen.
As time went by, Boxing Day gift giving expanded to include those who had rendered a service during the previous year. This tradition survives today as people give presents to tradesmen, mail carriers, doormen, porters, and others who have helped them.

The Day after Christmas

Boxing Day is December 26, the day after Christmas, and is celebrated in Great Britain and in most areas settled by the English (the U.S. is the major exception), including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Happy Christmas!

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:8-11

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Stained Glass Christmas treats from Ina

Ina used her Thursday mornings these past few months to make some adorable Christmas decorations.

Her trees are so special. They are made from "Sea Glass" which she collects from the beach. I don't endorse polluting our waterways but who would ever think that some smashed glass that ended up in the ocean would get tossed and tumbled constantly on the sand, creating a lovely matt finish, would then be spat up on the beach and then collected by someone with an artistic eye who then creates something beautiful from it.
You should see the lampshade she made from sea glass from the Greek Islands. Well, I might just show you one day.

Then with her stained glass supplies she has at home, she made these adorable angels.

Here they are before being copper-foiled and put together.

And here they are all finished and ready to sing...

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Luke 2:14

Friday, 23 December 2011

The last Christmas Cards

Did you send Christmas cards this year?

Here are a few final ones to show you. I had a few family medical appointments this year in December so I used the waiting time to write out some cards. I like to say more than just "Dear... love from..." so that takes a bit of time. I don't send or receive as many as I used to but it is still a nice tradition, I think.

These are by Valda.

The Poincentia card is by Cheryl.

Don't forget to record the memories with plenty of photos and then display them nicely like this scrapbooked page by Lyn.

This is a cue pop up Christmas card but someone will need to let me know who made it. One of the clever ladies at the Card table!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Dating your holiday photos

How are you at storing all your photos?

I am way behind at sorting my boxes and boxes of real photos! All of a sudden I realised I am accumulating an identical mess on my computer's digital photo program. AAHHHHH!

Here's a little tip which was a great help on my recent trip to Holland.

At the start of each day, before I took my first photo, I would take a photo of the date. I was only away for 22 days, so I used a little spiral notebook (the smallest I could find). Before I left, I wrote each days date on the lower right hand corner of each page.

Now as I sort my photos, it is easy to see when one days ends and the next begins. I know that info is on the little detail panel of each photo but this is an easy and quick way to see the holiday divided by days. It is also a bit cute to use these photos to show each new day in the holiday photo book.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Coconut Cake Recipe

The recipe for this cake was originally given to me from Karin.
If I can make it and serve it fresh on the same day I am hailed as a great baker.
It is good for a few food allergies (see end of post).

I make it sometimes in a thin loaf tin. 
(A bigger bread tin sometimes results in a soggy center.)
The best is when it is still just slightly warm and I slice and butter it.

(Makes 2 loaves)
2 cups sugar
2 cups coconut
4 cups Self Raising flour*

2 cups of milk
a splash of vanilla essence

It's a bit gluggy, but stir and build up those arm muscles!

NOW BAKE IN A MODERATE OVEN FOR ABOUT 30 MINUTES OR LONGER FOR A WIDER TIN. Don't skimp on baking time. Normal loaf tin is probably 45 min and a bit lower than moderate. How accurate is that hey!

mix mix

Makes 2 tins. Narrow is best. Line well with baking paper.

Or I make it in my mini muffin cases.
Bake for only about 15 - 20 minutes.

Then dust with icing sugar.

Wrap in pairs and pop into the freezer for school lunch boxes or picnics.

This cake is egg free, nut free and can easily be dairy free if you use soy milk, which I often do.
There is no butter or oil added as the coconut provides this.
Adding dried fruit like sultanas or apricots is really nice too.
*Instead of Self Raising flour, you can use 4 cups of flour and 8 tsp of baking powder.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Used Stamps for Cards

Today I have a Guest Post by Elly. Thanks El for sharing some of your card making tips with us. Elly is the queen of card making, very resourceful and creative and also a recycling guru. She is always super generous too in sharing her time and talents with others. Here's what she writes...

Everybody gets mail. Especially around Christmas.
But what do you do with the envelope? Of course  it ends up in the recycing-bin. Well Done.
No! Stop!  Don't throw in the ones with a stamp on it.
Do you know that you can create beautiful cards with them?
I fold the stamps and make a “flower”.

 Click on "Read more" to see more. I've made the pictures large so you can see the detail.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Sew a bowl! by Bronwyn

I bet you didn't think you could sew a bowl on your sewing machine?
This is a gorgeous one made by Bronwyn. She learnt how to make it in a special class.

The basic idea is that you wind a piece of bias cut fabric in long strips, joining where necessary, around a pice of rope. You then stitch between each piece with your machine, being sure to catch the fabric on each side with the needle.

You will need this little baby to make it work.

And for more information, I will beg ask Bronwyn to give more details in the comments below. 

Imagine the colours and textures this could add to a spot in your home. 
Thanks Bron!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

How to get a lost camera back

In August this year, I lost my little camera. I was annoyed with myself and had no idea where it could be. Months later, someone gave it back to me. She was at a same training weekend I was at and she had given me a lift home. The camera fell out of my bag in her car. She found it a while later and had no idea whose camera it was. She looked at the photos on the camera and boiled it down to someone who was connected to the same soccer team as her boyfriend. My son is in that team! Well, in the end, she asked me if it was mine and my camera and I were happily reunited.
I have read other similar stories and quite often people who find cameras are very willing to return them if they know who the owner is (and if they didn't steal it from you in the first place!).
So if it happens again that I am silly enough to loose my camera and someone lovely and honest finds it, I will make their job a bit easier. The first photo on my camera is a little message...

But I really really will try to be more careful and not loose it again.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Pasta Angel Decorations

Years ago, at 'The Craft Group', we made Pasta Angels for Christmas tree decorations.
I went home and we made heaps of them with the children.
I painted mine with gold spray paint.
I recently came across this one on the web. You can click here to see how they are made. I like it in white.


They are very simple to make. You just need 
* a glue gun
* a round bead (about 15 - 20mm wide). Buy the pasta first to see what sizebead fits best.
* Tube pasta (mastaccioli or rigatoni) for the body
* Farfalle (bow tie) pasta for the wings
* 2 elbow macaroni for the arms
* Risoni (anchellini pasta) for the hair (or normal rice)
* string for hanging
* Spray gold glue, or normal white paint

Just glue together as shown in the picture and paint.
Once you buy all the different pastas, it is best to make a whole batch in one session, or make them with a group of adults or children who are old enough to handle glue guns. 
You can always cook the remaining pasta for dinner!
Click here to go to a google search of images of more ideas.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Savoury Bread Pudding

This is the time of year where there are a lot of parties and shared dinners. I love it. Everyone brings a dish and it is no big stress for anyone.

It's nice when part of the BBQ spread is a Potato Bake but sometimes I wonder if one can have just too many Potato Bakes in one month!

So if you are looking for a more interesting way to enjoy some carbs at your next BBQ, maybe you want to try this Savoury Bread Pudding. I admit I haven't tried it (yet) but it looks interesting.
I found it at Craft:

Can you believe it has brussels sprouts leaves! Apparently it is delicious! Check out the full pictorial tutorial.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Salmon Rolls by Bev. Gluten Free!

I told you about our lovely "High Tea" and about Bev's Salmon Swirly Crepey Rolly things. Well, I admit I was telling you how to make the swirls from memory and maybe that is not such a wise thing. I only missed one ingredient and what is one ingredient between friends?   ;)

Well, to maintain the integrity of my blog, here is the actual recipe for Bev's Salmon Swirley Crepey Roll things which are officially called...

Salmon Rolls. (Gluten Free)
210 g tim red salmon
1 tub 80% fat free Philly cream cheese
2 shallots (white part only) finely chopped
1 pkt "Creative Gourmet" gluten free crepes (frozen section in Woolworths)

Drain, flake and debone the salmon.
Mix together with the cream cheese until well blended then add shallots.
Spread thinly over thawed crepes.
Roll into logs and cut into pinwheels. Can be held in place and served with a toothpick.
Can be frozen.

Thanks Bev. This is a great recipe for taking along to the next 'bring a plate' Christmas party!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Easy Star card Tutorial from Elly

Cards. Have you done them yet?
Home made cards are very special and I am very pleased to bring you.... drum roll....
A pictorial tutorial for making these lovely star cards by Elly!

If you attach a hanging thread on it, your card will double as a decoration in the receivers home.
Here's how you do it

From 1 A4 paper you can make 2  starcards.

Picture 1
1. Cut your A4 paper as shown in picture 1.
    You will now have 2 pieces of 11.7 x 21 cm.

Picture 2
2. Cut both pieces as shown in picture 2.
    You will now have 4 triangles.

Picture 3
3. Mark 2 triangles as shown in picture 3 using a soft pencil.
4. Place the unmarked triangles on top of the marked ones with a few pieces of double sided sticky-tape (**)
5. Rub out pencil marks.  
    **  note: please do not use normal glue as this will affect your paper ( paper will curl up)
Picture 4

6. Decorate your card as you wish.
    I decorated my cards with christmas wrapping paper and a few stickers.

Don't waste that rectangular pice of card that you didn't use. Make little"Thankyou" or small gift cards. Here are some that Elly Whipped up using metallic embroidery thread.

Thanks Elly for the tutorial!!!  The Star Cards are perfect for someone who is thinking "Ah! It is december already and I haven't thought about my Christmas Card design!" This card is easy and you only need to buy  packet of A4 paper which is thicker than paper, say 210 gsm.

Have Fun!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Puppet Shows

Sorry my blogging has been a bit quiet but I blame this guy...

I have been writing and performing another puppet show for 150 children. 
I do this 4 times a year and it gets pretty hectic before each play. 
Even if I am not working on the preparation, it is in my head and prevents much else creative from happening. 
After today's performance, I can file it away in my filing cabinet and in my brain, so there will be room for other things again.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Sunday Song, Shane & Shane - The One You Need

This song says something very interesting.
Our kids depend on us, but are we enough?
It is great to be able to pass our kids into the hands of someone much more dependable that us.

Here is Shane & Shane with "The One You Need"

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Crocheted Christmas Decorations.

These are not hard to make, especially if you follow this easy step by step tutorial at Craft:

It will be a good warm up exercise to our "Crocheted Flowers Frenzy" we are having in february next year!

It is beautiful weather today in Sydney.
Have a great weekend!

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