Thursday, October 15, 2015

The "No Gifts" Rule

Let's get things straight. I hate the "No Gifts" rule given by well meaning friends and family. I know it's given as a means of controlling the intake of crap, it's often a heartfelt "please don't spend your hard earned money on us" plea, and I don't know, is there another reason?

Well, I have a loop hole. Homemade gifts.

It can't just be Handmade, like you can't pay someone else to make it, that's cheating and and not covered by the Loophole. The aim is to give a gift that you made. That's the loophole.

The buying of supplies doesn't count, so shop away.

Unfortunately, or fortunately (we are trying to save for a house now. Remember my dream house?) I had all I needed for this little project.

First, I checked with the hostess on the colour scheme for her home. This is when the "No Gifts" rule was proclaimed and I hit back with my loophole (while also promising that I would only make something if I had the time. Pfft! I make time for crafts baby!)

Next I grabbed an inherited-from-a-friend, mini square canvas.

I covered it in a grey/white scrapbooking paper, using double sided tape to stick it down.

Add another strip to that thing and it's covered!

Then I printed out An Irish Blessing, using grey and yellow ink.

I stuck it on my covered canvas with tape.

It looks like it's coming off, but I assure you I fixed it!

Then wrapped a yellow ribbon around it, taping it all around.

Cute enough to display and small enough to stash in the cupboard if they hate it.


Wrapped it with some inherited-from-a-friend wrapping paper, tied a bow with a strip of scrap fabric, and That's it!

I love this green paper... but I only have a little bit left *sob*

Gratuitous bow shot.

I did fail to make a card, but I wrote on the back of the canvas. That'll work.

What do you think of the No Gifts rule? Do you bend it, or smash that sucker?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Creative Life and Writers Block

I have some serious writers block.

I'm sitting here staring at the blinking cursor in front of me trying to put together a witty sentence about making Compote, or even a vaguely amusing anecdote about any kind of creative endeavor I've pursued over the last little while.

It's not even a little while. This is some serious blockage.

While it's true that I've always got something creative on the go, writing about those things doesn't always come easy. Maybe it's because I don't always feel that my crafty shenanigans are all that interesting. Certainly not quite interesting enough to use the term shenanigans. Perhaps I've overdosed on Social media and actually don't have anything left to say...

Pfft. Nah... that can't be it.

For now, I'm going to do what any blocked blogger would do and hit you with a bunch of photos that never made it into a proper blog post.

Chopping like a crazy lady because the French in the family like to eat compote... a lot.

Fruit plus water, plus a little cinnamon. Simmer till soft. Puree. Voila. I'm SURE I had a picture of massive batch all jar'd up, but who knows where it is.

I drink tea the way I'd like to drink wine. All. The. Time.
I made fancy tags for when I do markets. These are the new and old. HUGE difference!
All my Bridal bags (and custom made bags) come with their own dust cover... blatantly branded of course.
Playing with my market set-up. Again. I'm never entirely happy. This time I added some fairy lights and I think I'll try and incorporate light in some way in the future.

Marketing, Pub Style

The Evelyn Pub, Fitzroy, Melbourne. The site of my last market.

There really has been more going on. I swear. I'm sure. I think.

Check my Instagram feed... I'm sure I'm managing to at least post on there, where words are optional.  


I'll be back just as soon as I get clear.

Do you get writers block? Do you have any tricks to get rid of it? Share you greedy bugger!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Motherhood, Creativity and Drudgery

Now that I have the Tadpole in day care one day a week, I have time to do my stuff.
MY stuff.
Not the cleaning, the cooking , the groceries or what have you. (Although let's be honest, the dishes have to at least get done! Does it ever stop?!) I have from about 8:30am until 4:45pm and it's mine to do what I like with. Lately, I'm all business. And although my time is finite, I generally get a lot done in those hours. In Rachel Power's "Motherhood and Creativity - The Divided Heart" many of the women interviewed say that having less time actually made the time they did have, even if it's half an hour, more productive, not less. Now that I've put my business hat on my creative little head, I find the same is true for me.

However, sometimes motherhood, creativity and flu germs collide.

Over the last couple of weeks, we have had a pox on our house. The Lurgy has been hanging around for what seems like forever.
It started slowly.
We barely registered runny noses or phlegmy throats. But it built and even I have succumbed. I'm always the last to go down, and being Mum means no sick days. Poor Tadpole missed two days at Child care (over two weeks), which means I have missed  two of MY days of what I am trying to call "Work", without using quotation marks.

Whats a creative gal to do with a sick family and itchy fingers?
Create, any way she can.


I made Lemon Cordial, again.

I made Lemon Salt (a new thing I quite like the idea of)
I decorated and labelled my Preserved Lemons
There are days when even my never ending supply of lemons gets shafted. Some days the only creative thing I get to do is mend.

Mr Frogs jeans, now definitely not for public consumption.
Once in a while, the lemon creations give way to the creation of a birthday hamper.
Because let's share the craziness.

  Often though, motherhood and creativity collide in the sweetest of ways.

Tadpole and our collaborative effort on a floor collage.

Now, we're back into the swing of things.

Tadpole is back at Daycare making Fathers day cards.

Mr Frog is back to work for the end of term.

And I'm starting a new, very exciting, and important project that's a little out there.

Stay tuned.

How do you merge Motherhood and Creativity?

Friday, July 31, 2015

Christmas in July

Christmas came early this year.

It started with a gift for my mum, who is basically Christmas crazy. She has all manner of decorations and even has her own shed to store them in. What she didn't have was an Advent Calendar.

I'm not sure where I found the idea. Probably Pinterest. Or maybe I morphed a couple of ideas together. Anyhoo, I'm sure Pinterest is the reason I held onto my old baking trays when Mr Frog bought me new ones from Aldi. It can't just be because I'm a bit of a hoarder. Right?

Here's what I came up with.

It's one of the simplest crafts I've done in ages.

1.Take one old baking tray/cookie sheet (FREE) and go at it with a can of spray paint. I chose white (because I had some. FREE)

2. Measure some xmas coloured scrapbook paper to size (already had because I bought it on sale ages ago. FREE)  and wrap around some matchboxes (ten of which I already had because I had to have them when I first saw them. FREE) from the craft shop. They come in packs of ten, so I bought another pack ( stupidly expensive when you're buying this many!) and then they didn't have any more. Commence swearing like a sailor, then save the day by buying actual matchboxes and turf the contents. (Seriously thought about keeping the matches, because surely I could use them for something, but after two weeks on the dining table they had to go.)

3. Adorn each box with a number from a purpose made sticker sheet. Thank you Kaisercraft for making my life easier.

That's basically it.

But then I realised that mum could display some of her massive magnet collection on the tray during the year, so I found a box to house the little boxes in (also FREE).

I love it when  a gift does double duty.

So, not long after I posted this off, we were invited to Christmas in July. Of course, I'd need a hostess gift and it would need to be homemade. I've got a rep' to protect.

I've been dying to make Mulled wine "teabags" almost as long as I've been obsessed with handmade tea bags. So, I went to Pinterest again, and used this and this as guides. The American measurements annoyed me no end, so there was a little bit of educated guessing going on.

Sadly, there was no time for a tasting so I can only hope they're as delicious as they look!

One "teabag" will do one bottle of wine, so I figure two bags will generally do for the winter. And of course they need to be packaged just so...

The morning of our lovely lunch date, Mr Frog trimmed the herb garden, so they came too.

Properly dressed of course...

And that is how we Christmas'd in July.

 Mr Frog has decided that next year, from Yule (in June...yes, I'm Pagan. The nude dancing is optional.) until Bastille Day on 14th July we will be celebrating Xmas, with decorations and everything.

You've been warned.

Now, it's time to start preparing those xmas crafts... don't leave them till the last minute, you'll just do yourself a damage.

What do you have planned for Xmas? Or is that a dirty word right now...?


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Someday, Soon...

For the last few years, I've had in mind a fabulous scenario....
Something a little like this... (If you own this photo, email me so I can credit you)

I'm working in my studio, a building separate from our gorgeous white weatherboard. I'm working on new designs; I'm on the phone with stores that sell my handmade wares; I'm popping into one of those stores to check on my stock; I'm meeting with a customer about their custom design; I'm home when the kids get home from school; I'm making dinner; enjoying a wine and a laugh with Mr Frog; I'm making a bit of money; and life is good.
Perhaps I'll need a little more room, but could it be any cuter? (Via Pinterest,"Found on

It's only since the birth of my daughter that that little scenario has been fleshed out in my head, clear enough that I can hear the sounds that go along with it. It's almost a memory.

I thought I had been working hard enough on my little business. I thought I was doing the best I could. And to some degree perhaps I was. The last two years have been hard. I didn't know having a baby and raising that person was going to be so hard. And time consuming. And energy sucking. And did I mention time consuming?
I couldn't possibly know how awesome, and how exhausting, motherhood could be.

A few weeks ago, we put the Tadpole into Family Daycare. It took ages for me to "get around" to arranging it. I kept "forgetting" to check out childcare centres and look into Family Daycare. I felt too guilty. It's not like I'm going back to work. (I'd still feel guilty but that would be different.) It's mostly so I can have a break to do what I want to do. To take some time just for me. Could I BE more selfish?!

It's just one day a week.

Tadpole thinks it's awesome.
She loves it because she gets to do stuff like this all the time!

And I am becoming the business woman I always hoped I really was.

Creative people really struggle with the business side of trying to make a living out of their talents. I really struggle.

But that scene in my head just won't quit.

So neither will I.

What's the scene in your head? What do you want your life to look like?

Tell me!


I made these. And I took the photo, did the editing, made it fancy and even did a photo shoot of the bags in action. I'm the BOSS!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Love Notes

Here is a little something nice to do for the ones you love.

First, make some biscuits/cookies/slice or similar. Try not to eat them all yourself.

Next, write some lovely things on some tiny post-its or note paper. Hell, you can even write them on scrap. The point here is to be specific. It's great to hear " I love you", it's even better to hear "I love you because...". I made these for Mr Frog, so they were all things I love about him, but you can do this for anyone. I imagine they'd be especially well received by someone going through a tough time (new mums, for example). Use your imagination and write loving thoughts.

Next, cut some baking paper so that you can easily wrap a couple of bikkies, or a piece of slice, without too much overhang. Place your treat on the paper, add your little note and wrap. I simply folded my ends and tucked them underneath, but you can use tape (washi tape would be awesome) if you wish. Then tie them with string, because who doesn't love things tied with string?

Repeat until you've used all the treats or you've run out of things to say.

Voila! You're done and you've just done something lovely for the one you love.

 Sometimes it really is this easy to make someone happy.


P.S Mr Frog has taken to returning home from work and quoting his note of the day to me... he looks very pleased with himself!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Lemon Curd, And My Little Matthew Evans Crush

I've got more lemons than I know what to do with, but I'm giving it a red hot go.

If you've been playing along at home, you'll know this isn't my first go with the Lemon Curd. The last time I made it though, I fell in love with it and so it makes sense that the millions of lemons I am always in possession of get made into this beautiful balm.

While the fabulous packaging (if you ask me) is all my work, I can't take credit for the recipe. It's my boyfriends recipe.
Mr Frog knows, don't worry. At least I think he does. Although he forgets anything he doesn't take seriously.
Anyhoo, the recipe comes from the gorgeous, and heavy, tome "The Real Food Companion", written by (my boyfriend) Matthew Evans.

I realised I had the hots for him somewhere near the middle of the original Gourmet Farmer t.v series. I'm not sure what it was... the way he narrates, cooks or talks to his pigs. When I saw his book during my Angus & Robertson days, I had to have it. Aside from the crush, the book really is beautiful. It's all about how our food is raised, grown, killed and harvested and the best practices for all of these methods. It's not preachy, it just tells you how it is and how it could be if we all made better choices. Beautifully styled and shot, it's one of those books you can read from cover to cover, and if you're familiar with the series, you can hear Matthew reading to you.

Is it getting creepy yet?

Sadly, unbeknownst to me, during the filming of that first series, Matthew had already hooked up with his extraordinary wife, Sadie. This is a woman who stuck with a bloke who had not only just bought himself a little farm he had no idea how to run, but was being filmed while doing so. Since then there has been another couple seasons of G.F, a series on the labelling of Fish for consumption, and then he filmed him and his mates traveling around Tasmania on a boat. All the while Sadie has been running not only the property where they live, but also the other farm they own a few k's away. (I'm not actually sure how far, I'm not a stalker!)

Did I mention they have a little boy?

So, as much as I enjoy your shows and adore your books Matthew, you'd better hang on to that Sadie. She's a keeper.

So, back to those lemons. I use Matthews recipe. It's super simple, and I always feel better when he says "Don't worry if there are lumps - that just proves it's homemade".


Finely grated zest of six lemons and their juice
8 eggs, lightly beaten
200g unsalted butter, cubed, softened
400g (1 2/3 cups) castor sugar

Sit a large bowl (Matthew says stainless steel, I use glass) over a saucepan of boiling water. Add all the ingredients, stirring occassionally with a wooden spoon until melted. Cook for a further 10minutes or so, stirring and scarping the bottom as you go, until the mixture thickens slightly. Remember ot to worry about the lumps, Matthew says it's ok! (And so do I!) The curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Transfer to sterilised, airtight jars and once cool, store in the fridge. It'll keep for up to two weeks.

Excellent on crumpets, pancakes, your favourite bread, turned into little tartlets, or even dolloped into your yoghurt.

Bon appetit!


P.S Matthew, please don't sue me for sharing your recipe... it's an act of crush!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Baby Shower Bonanza, The Last post: Games and De-brief.

The actual Baby Shower was a couple of weeks ago now.

I flew to Canberra, all by myself, kid and husband free, and spent  a few day with my sister. These were our last moments together, just us girls, for what will probably be quite some time.

We visited my parents in their little country town on the day of a football game, watched a chick flick while eating home delivered noodles,I spent a lazy morning washing my hair, we Baby Showered, we shared pizza with friends, I cooked a meal for my sister and her husband and then I was home again. It went all too fast, but was relaxing and lovely.

The Shower went beautifully.
The Thank you gifts looked beautiful on the table, the venue was lovely, the food and champagne delicious and the time just flew.

That was a problem. It turns out, I over scheduled.

Originally, I had just two games planned; a Guess the Tea game where guests passed unlabelled tea bags around and tried to guess the flavours, and a Royal Baby Quiz; a quiz written by my mum that was REALLY hard. These two games took a bit of time and would've been plenty to do... remember it's customary to open gifts during the shower too!

However, we also had the "Guess the Belly Circumference", The "Boy/Girl Guessing Jar" and the book of advice. At this particular shower, I didn't need the belly measuring or the advice book at all... 

C'est la Vie!

Lots of chatting...

Lots of lovely food... (If you're in Canberra, check out The Burbury - gorgeous view)

and it all looked pretty. I'm including the Champagne in that statement!
Oh, and there were prizes too...

Tea Cup with infuser and tea sample

Tea Cup and saucer with infuser and tea sample

The "just-in-case" extras, infusers and boxes of tea
And that concludes the Baby Shower Bonanza.

Needless to say, I had a ball designing and making all the elements.

But, I had an even better time celebrating with my sister.

Congratulations Sadie. Can't wait to meet the little monster.



Friday, April 10, 2015

Baby Shower Bonanza, Part 6: Something Sentimental

So, I wrote a book for my sister.

No, I'm not suggesting you start writing a novel for the guest of honour at your shower. And it's a not a novel, anyhow.

It's random advice that may or may not be actually helpful.

See, good advice.
I filled this book (almost!) with random thoughts on pregnancy, birth and motherhood-so-far. It's meant to be me when I'm not there, give my sister a giggle when she needs it, and maybe even be a little bit helpful. Sadie called this "Your version of Kaz Cookes book". ( "Up the Duff", totally brilliant, hilarious and actually helpful.) Mine's not as good, but at least it's pretty.

Now, you don't have to fill the book. It's a nice idea to pass this around at the shower and have the guests put in their two cents. Or, just write their best wishes. In another life, say at a Kitchen Tea, this could be filled with recipes.

The choice is yours.


Baby Shower Bonanza, Part 7: Lace Crown

I have fallen madly in love with Lace Crowns.

Pinterest. Again. Dammit!

At my baby shower, Sadie had me wear Fairy Wings. Obviously. (Or maybe not? Long story short: Sadie used to say I was like Tinkerbell and bought me car seat and steering wheel covers to advertise that fact. I was using them when Mr Frog and I first met, so he called me Fee Clochette (Tinkerbell in French, but with an accent over one of the E's). I started a business, by then I was married, and so: Madame Clochette).

Sadie likes to pretend she's royal. On the phone one day, she told me her tiara was giving her a headache. I thought it was some sort of metaphor. I was wrong. She was actually wearing one of her tiaras at work. Note the plural.


She just HAD to have a special Mum -to-be Crown.

First, I measured a bit of cardboard around my head, guessing hers would be about the same, and taped it together. I covered the whole thing in tape so glue and paint won't stick to it. Then, cut some lace to fit.
Lace with pointy bits looks more... I don't know, crown like?
Using a glue gun, glue your lace ends together...

Using my fancy tripod...
...making sure the ends overlap like this.
Mind my manicure...

Make a half/half mix of PVA glue (Modpodge for the Yanks) and water. Thoroughly soak the lace.

Gently squeeze out the excess and slip over your cardboard ring. Let dry. If you use too much PVA, your lace will look like plastic, not lace, which is really not the point.

That succulent is keeping my crown from blowing away!

Next, paint your crown. It's easier if you take it off the cardboard and get paint all over yourself... the coverage of the lace is better. I then added a coat of glitter paint. And then one more, because you always need more glitter.

Once it's dry, you're done. Prance around the house with it on, admiring yourself in any and all mirrors. (You could also hot glue on some sequins or jewels).

Then, at the actual Shower, just barely remember to get a photo of the guest of honour wearing her crown.

Sadie, mid conversation

Every girl needs a crown.

Don't they?

Next up in the Baby Shower Bonanza, I tell you about the games we played, what I'll do next time and finally wrap this thing up!