Sunday, September 29, 2013

Barbie's Flat-pack home pt1

She-who-worships-Pink has requested a Barbie dolls' house for her birthday. What she is struggling with now is the waiting. Her birthday is not until just before Christmas.

Then I found this in the IKEA catalogue; The HUSET dolls house mini IKEA furniture. So cute and only $14.99.

Included in the packaging are pop-out accessories - cardboard clocks, books, pictures, mirrors and lamps to colour-in and stick-on.

I got to thinking; How about a room to put this stuff in, a kind of  three-dimensional  room but, like a play-mat, could be folded flat and kept on a bookshelf when it's not in use.

And this is what I came up with:

Hardware stores, grocers and wine shops are good for cut-away display boxes. Or you can just cut down your own box.

I wanted wall paper but settled for contact paper, since I couldn't buy a sample roll or piece of proper wallpaper under $60 which kind of defeats the purpose of a cheap interim solution.

After applying the contact paper, I glued all the little IKEA cardboard decorations into place. 

I cut up a cheap carpet tile ($4) to fit the space of the expanded box. I could have also used a piece of thick fabric like some sort of plaid or wool blend.

I certainly would have preferred a more discrete colour, but you-know-who was with me so we HAD TO BUY PINK!!!. This particular pink is a shocker but this is what happens to parents who shop with their children..All options are exposed and as a result, dubious choices are made. I may have to fish around in the fabric box yet and change it over time - this one hurts both my eyes and my fashion sense.

So this is the first of, I suspect, at least a couple of themed rooms. Maybe with same size boxes I could do them back to back.  Originally I had an idea to cut furniture photos out of the old IKEA catalogue and glue those onto the walls.  For now I might use our Outdoor Living catalogue, glue a beach or pool terrace scene onto the back of this box and just make Barbie and Ken a little towel each for sun bathing.

I  might even poke this into our suitcase to take on our holiday next week, since She-Who-Worships-Pink tells me Barbie and Ken and possibly also Ben and Vanessa will also be joining us..

And because you can never get too much of Barbie...

a Toy story

Mother of all Tantrums

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Cut-up Couture

Have you seen the price of toweling lately?
And there is a big fat zero choice of colours. I wanted to make an after-swimming dress for the She-Who-Worships-Pink but you cannot buy them.
Except in England. Because of course the weather there is so much better year-round swimming...

So I've had this basic pattern for yonks (that's Australian for 'completely ages') and since my little cherub

was in need of something warm to pull on after swimming lessons, I headed off to the fabric store. And headed right back out when I was asked to pay $16 per meter for plain toweling of dubious quality. And only white or a not-quite-pretty-enough-to-be Baby Blue.

Disgusted, I headed to old faithful - IKEA to buy a nice fluffy towel to cut up.

For an average five-year-old the HÄREN bath towel is plenty big enough: 1.4 meters long and 70 cms wide (1.53 yards by 271/2 inches). It's made from lighter weight, soft towel- exactly what you need for sewing something that wont have your kid walking around stiff armed like a zombie. Also you don't want to break your scissors, develop carpel tunnel or destroy your sewing machine making the thing.

You might be wondering by the picture above why my pink worshiper is clad in turquoise. Well HÄREN didn't come in a 'nice' pink, and since I was shopping alone, I thought hey, what 'she' doesn't know... I've bought a lovely sunny yellow towel too-don't know what I'll turn that into maybe drawstring track-pants??

Anyway, IKEA also had these little gems (LUSY Crochet Flower decoration set ) in the fabric department for around $5. They come complete with embroidery thread which I used to decorate my pocket with a blanket stitch, after sewing on the flower.

Unfortunately the pattern I used (New Look 6822) is no longer available, but any basic hooded sweatshirt pattern would do the trick - just lengthen it and nip it in at the waist a bit. There is one available for download here from PeekabooPattern Shop. Check out Etsy as well.

IKEA has loads more towels to give the cut up for couture treatment. The velour towels are really nice for this, like the SVALEN bath towel with it's cute fish print. 

For more close encounters of the IKEA kind...

Wild wild West

Take It Outside

Friday, September 20, 2013

Another tough day at the office

I swear I walk into the school grounds everyday looking like a bunny in the headlights. The sheer effort of arriving on time with nothing forgotten, well by the time I get there I'm just hare-brained with a look on my face to match.

We're always rushing, always racing the clock, always 'almost' late. Then we arrive and the cacophony of noise; the squealing, shoving and ducking and diving away  from skipping ropes on the fly, followed by the final loud clanging of the bell, doesn't improve my focus or stunned expression. Not one bit.

I put some of it down almost 6 years of not been able to finish a conversation, sentence, a thought. Not while my little Duracel bunny is galloping around my knees, tugging on my clothes and chattering ten to the dozen.  Still I try. 
I do make an effort to converse coherently with the other parents in the playground, but it's a fairly futile exercise. My formerly autonomous child seems to have become phobic about my engaging in conversations with other people. 
Hell, even the dog has developed the same phobia. He's gone all "look at me- look at me" whenever I'm not alone. I can't speak to anyone human or beast without him dancing around me in circles making noises like an opera singer on rally ad drugs (kind of howling, whining, yodeling noises). And if the singing doesn't work, he just starts punching me in the crotch with a clenched paw.

But I had a real shocker of a day today. Starting with super grumpy, teary child waking me at 6am (after the 'I-don't-even -know-what-time-it-was' night-waking) topped off with the killer headache from hell. 

Faced with all of the above, and feeling sorry for what was in store for Miss Lovely Smile, I kept Miss Waterworks off school. It seemed like a good idea at the time...
She was ok-ish,  just had a bad night itching and scratching so we took the day for Doctors and Chiropractor* visits for both of us. Oddly her multitude of symptoms disappeared about 20 minutes after the no-school decision was made and there was no chance of it being revoked.
Then began her campaign to drive me mad.
She's been crazy person - like an overtired toddler on Redbull. Whirling around like a lunatic -refusing to keep hold of my hand (completely out of character) and dancing and twirling out onto the road twice. In the pharmacy and  post office she grabbed at everything she laid eyes on (also completely out of character) knocking stuff over - bursting into tears, apologising then doing it again and again. It was like aliens had kidnapped my child, and substituted one of their own in disguise, to conduct some kind of perverse human experiment.

I looked so bad by the afternoon her chiropractor suggested I leave Pinkster to be treated on her own because, she said, my "eyes were so glazed" I looked like a woman who needed 15 minutes alone time. 

Pinkster was twisted like a pretzel. Not by the Doctor! More like a month of falls stumbles and scooter crashes. The Doc, actually showed me one leg was longer than the other her little hips were so out of whack.
This apparently explains a lot of her erratic behaviour and sleep. Doc says she'd never seen her little body that tangled up in itself before.

I'm hoping for a big deep post adjustment sleep out of her tonight- hedged my bets with Valergan since she's still itching like a stray dog!

Pediatric Osteopathy and Chiropractic have copped a bit of bad press lately - much of it media-sensationalism because scary headlines quickly equate to healthy ratings. Forgive me if I get on my soapbox  here, but the recent media coverage is so ridiculous and the people interviewed so obviously handpicked to support the the story's bias. ("story" being the appropriate word)

Our local practitioners are all qualified Doctors having studied full time for 5 years. Dr David J Steven B.Sc. has been in practice for 20 years and holds a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Anatomy and a Masters Degree in Chiropractic Science.  These days to qualify as a Doctor of Chiropractic you do a 3-year Bachelors Degree in Chiropractic Science and a 2-year Masters Degree.  Hardly the 'quacks' the media's been describing. 
In fact world-renowned Australian neurosurgeon Dr Charles Teo who spent a decade working and teaching in the US, is huge fan of Chiropractic.  Not only supporting chiropractic - Dr Teo has been known to hold lectures specifically for Chiropractors.  

Adjustments (if you could call them that) are nothing like those for adults and as Dr Steven tells me it isn't so much about Chiropractic, as it is about anatomy.  "Your nervous system controls and co-ordinates every organ, cell and tissue in the body. Chiropractic treatment deals with allowing the nervous system to flow freely. A balanced spine allows a healthy body."
You can read more here, about children's chiropractic treatments, but I'm just glad my girl's legs measure up and she's back to her normal self again. And sleeping 11 hours straight!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Let Down

There are many types of  Let Downs; letting myself down (by trying too hard) that makes me feel bad, but also more productive let downs that cheers me up...

My week has, and still is, being dominated by our looming School Carnivore.  OK, I really MUST stop calling it that.  It is our School Car-ni-val this weekend - A.K.A  T O-bloody-MORROW!!

Today, I'm booked to bake. To donate. And I have to transport many boxes and items up to the school. I have to avoid donating anymore of my time..

I have to 'not' let down the home-team again since I dropped the ball on our Best Dressed Teddy entry. This little cutie was completely forgotten until after the deadline - because my brain was full and as a result fully functioning memory was not an option.  She's a bunny not a teddy, but still, she may have won a prize... [I have to let it go].

So a super-quick post this week, riffing on my theme of this week - Let Downs.

So lets talk about Let Downs.. of the hemming kind.

Way back when She-Who-Worships-Pink hadn't yet discovered "the very best colour of all" we dressed her in primary colours and a lot of Denims. Two particular items, a pair of Gap Jeans and her Denim Overalls, I just loved to pieces.

But children do tend to grow and there's not a lot we can do about that.  They're meant to. It's their job.

Fortunately for me, our little munchkin was shooting up rather than out, so I had a better chance of getting more life out of these old favourites:

Her beloved Gap jeans got the basic treatment first.  Problem: the lovely embroidery put the kibosh on cutting them down for shorts. So I let down all the hem there was and treated the raw edge to a good zig-zagging before sewing some heavy duty ribbon over that. I gained about 4cms (just over one and a half inches). 
I played on the colours of the existing embroidery to make it look like it was part of the design and camouflaged the fading, where the original hem had been, using some navy Ric Rac trim. The idea here was to disguise and add texture without making it look too busy.
These jeans were admired by many, and everyone who commented on them assumed the trim was part of the design. [smug grin].

The next wardrobe staple was a bit more difficult because these were so plain; no existing decoration to work with.  It was love at first sight with these overalls (or dungarees/ coveralls depending on where you're from). They're breezy in summer with just a tee-shirt, or warm in winter with a jumper and all the while still protecting little knees from scrapes. I actually bought these in the boys department, but in the end they turned out looking quite girly.

As you can see I went to town on these with the Ric Rac. I added home made Gingham trim to extend the hem with ribbon and a little decorative kerchief sewed into the back pocket just for fun.
Here below shows the transition from the original (with turned up cuffs) to where I gained 5cms (2 inches) in length and we got another years wear out of them.

In contrast to all this laborious lengthening of hems, our bunny's school uniform (above), was made from a fabric off-cut from Pinkster's school uniform - so long was that hem.

I still think we could have taken a prize.. [get over it!]

Oh and to add insult to injury (if you can call missing your 'Best Dressed Teddy' entry deadline an injury - brain injury perhaps??)  Well you know how I mentioned the baking stuff? I was supposed to produce a box of home-baked gingerbread cookies for the school to sell on the refreshment stand.

I used a recipe I've done a dozen times and still, STILL they came out burnt on the bottoms and under-cooked and crumbling on top. GAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!

Even the shape went horribly wrong; Using my footprint cookie cutter, they were supposed to be cute little feet with red-icing painted toenails. Instead they went all fat and bloated with tiny nubby toes...actually they look exactly like my own feet did in the latter stages of pregnancy (only with black burnt bottoms).

Oh, the shame.

I must except the fact that I am culinarily challenged and leave all things oven-related to my more competent peers.

Can I just say though, that I did ask for your advice/ vote in my last post; I said "show of hands - Bake or Buy???" I asked the question and no-one answered, so here I am smack back in Disasterville.

OK I forgive you, after all I didn't give you much notice.

So moving right along, in case you didn't already click the text just above, click the pic here to find out how I came to be in this sorry state. For any (many) other sorry states,  follow the other links to the right of this post. Or a few choice ones below:

A Woman's Work is never done

Worse than The Elephant in The Room


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Woman's Work...

"HOW WAS YOUR DAY, DEAR?" Oh you know...same ol', same ol'..

And I thought I was stressed-out and chasing my tail before.. well nothing compares to the build-up of an impending School Carnivore ...
My neighbour warned me, when her boy started Kindy, that it was hard work.
She said to me; "It's like I just got another full-time job, you know?"
And of course I didn't. 

Now though I often feel like a personal assistant to a CEO rather than a mum.
Would someone tell me please, how the hell do you women with more than one child do it????
Even simple stuff like obtaining spots in extra-curricular activities that can work- in real time- seems impossible without the need for wearing your undies over your tights, or calling on the fat lady with a pumpkin and six white mice.

I tell you, I practically had to sell my soul to Satan and promise my next child (like I could have one), just to change her swimming lesson time to anything more manageable than fifteen minutes out of the school gate or cocktail hour. I asked every week, twice a week, for a full term.

Because this was a typical 'lazy day' for me and my only child before the start of big school:

9:30 - sort and load washing
10:30 - Shop for jelly crystals as promised
11am - Pinkster's -haircut buy take-out coffee and Pick-up dry-cleaning
12 - Cook & serve lunch for Pinkster, hang out washing and make jelly together
1pm - Pinkster's chiropractic appointment
2pm - Pinkster's School Start Interview
2:45 - pick up some groceries and lunch for me (because I snap at the crotch of a low-flying duck by now)
3.30-4-30 - jolly good lie down (A.K.A. fall-in-a-heap due to malnourishment)
4-45 - tidy up from unsupervised rampant play-time and  vacuum house
5-30 - run bath- put child in to soak and finish housework
6pm - cook and serve Pinkster's dinner, wash up
6:30 - wrestle jelly out of the mold
6:40 - The Pinkster and I discover that she doesn't actually like 'eating' Jelly
6:50 until wine-o-clock - The whole bath, teeth & bed hostage situation.
7:30 - ooh goodie time to think about tonight's dinner for grown-ups - get drunk instead and order Chinese

At this point in time I was still naively  looking forward to all the promised 'freedom' I would have once she started school. (hysterical laughter spills over the keyboard - oh that must be the wine).

So now we're in high gear, almost 3 terms under the belt, I volunteered when I could, I've baked, I've sewed costumes, I've coached all the lagging subjects, I've helped pour literally hundreds of cups of tea and walked the boards of the school hall proffering trays of scones.

But in just these last two weeks - man oh man, we've had; Father's day (and we were making him a photo memory book), a family visitor, a federal election, the Jump for Heart Fund Raiser, Miss Lovely Smile's Birthday 'thing' and all the while gearing up for, what Pinkster calls; The School Carnivore.

Already I've totally dropped the ball on the best dressed teddy entry, but I did well on donations for the quality second hand children's' clothes stall (which involved a world of extra washing - let me tell you).

I completely botched the "purchase-your-ride-tickets-online-lest-you-spend-the-rest-of-your-natural-life-in-a-queue" deadline. So I may have to employ someone for a sleep-out the evening before. That's because I can't go early to queue on the day because it's my week to carpool the girls to French lessons on Saturday.

I actually managed to negotiate with Pinkster a parting with some mint-condition baby toys to donate to another stall. This was a long and emotionally exhausting process, during which she negotiated that I will be buying her a Barbie Dream house for her fill  up the space made by the donated toys of course.
But all in all it was a successful task... until the note in the school bag appeared the following day saying there was no more space and "please no more donations of toys". So that stuff will go back in the attic I guess freshly washed, maybe we'll try again next year..maybe the children's hospital..?

Anyway during this long, long fortnight, I got to thinking what do I do with my time? Why are my days so short? Why can't I manage to blog twice a week? Why am I always running around like a headless chook? Forever out of breath at afternoon pick-up? And why is my novel still  unfinished?

So I worked it out. Meticulously. This is the only kind of pie I can bake competently that doesn't involve replacing ovens or food poisoning.

Ironically, next note to appear in her school bag tells me I'm about to receive a cake-box? How lovely!
Uh oh - this is something I'm supposed to fill with home baked cookies to sell at - you guessed it The School Carnivore!

I really must stop calling it that - it's only cute when 'she' says it.

So amongst all this moaning about my lot - I think often of the mum's at our school who do all this, PLUS canteen, PLUS being class or year co-ordinators, PLUS work in the uniform shop, volunteer for every-bloody-thing there is and those same women have a bunch of kids- not just one. AND some of them have jobs! (as in paid ones with superannuation and health benefits) AND some of them are even working on degrees as well as working!!
Hey now, that's just showing off. Or are they secretly wearing their undies over her tights and doing laps of the neighbourhood rooftops at night?

HOW DO THEY BLOODY DO IT ??????????????
OK so tonight the cake box came home: a box big enough to park a Mac Truck (OK slight exaggeration there; more like three dozen cup cakes) which is still huge. 

Can I have a show of hands; Who thinks I'm an idiot for considering actually baking, instead of buying, enough *gingerbread-feet biscuits (I don't do people because it seems cruel biting them) to fill this thing ??

Please cast your vote, people: I'm losing what's left of my good judgement along with my marbles.
Buy or Bake?   Bake or Buy?

Speaking of baking, what's that awful burning smell?  OH SHIT, THE ROAST! I've just incinerated dinner again! CRAP!

* I make gingerbread biscuits in the shape of feet and paint the toenails with red icing - v cute and v. labour-intensive.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Swinging in the Rain?

We have a porch swing; this molded plastic monstrosity in blue and red with screamingly yellow rope and aged moldy safety belts. The Pinkster can't get herself into or out of it without help and I can’t get my bum into it at all.

It never really fit with my idea of sitting and gently swinging to and fro - a magazine or a coffee in my hand.
Plus our $40 baby swing is about as aesthetically pleasing as a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. It bears no resemblance to the ones I see in films or home-maker magazines.

I found a set of IKEA GORM shelves on the curb, waiting for council pick-up, and I figured one shelf was about the right size for the average adult arse and that's where the idea grew from.

So I took two and stared at them for a while. I wanted a seat-back as well as a base and I wasn't sure how I would attach them.

I thought good solid hinges might be the solution - not very strong but I figured if I got the form right - I could work-out the engineering problems later.

To get the two shelves close enough to connect with hinges, I needed to cut one down so it would partially slot inside the other.


This involved Measuring against the other shelf then using a soft mallet to pop out the slats at one end.  I then cut the slats to size and nailed them back onto the frame.

Next I screwed the hinges in place and since the screw ends poked a little through to the seat - I filed these back.

It's always a good idea to drill pilot holes for these jobs so that you don't split your timber with the screws (like I did). Saves a whole world of time repairing or replacing parts.

I cut down the GORM shelf supports and measured then drilled new holes to use the strong IKEA bolts supplied. I wanted these planks to finish off the edges of the seat top and bottom.

Finally I screwed the left over pieces across the ends of the seat to make armrests, of sorts; I marked out in pencil where I needed to trim of the excess before unscrewing and cutting them to size.

So now comes the hard part - how to make the swing stronger and hangable. Intending to use the IKEA-made drill holes where I could and not wanting another wood splitting  disaster, I took one of IKEA's bolts to the hardware store and bought two twin packs of  Galvanised  Eye bolts 75x 14mm (3" long- 1/4 inch thread size).  I drilled holes in the swing that penetrated through both the arm-rests and base, top and bottom. I added more eye bolts into the IKEA drill-holes on the bottom of the seat as well for extra strength.

I liked the way, on our old swing,  the hanging rope threaded all around the underside making it even stronger, so I've used the same idea here. This way the eye-bolds are not taking all of the load because the rope actually sits under the seat itself.

 And here is the end result. It just needs staining and maybe some nice cushions - Although She-Who-Worships-Pink has suggested her own idea of colour choice. Yeah right that would be really discreet..

It still needs few more coats of stain to darken it, (what IS it about hardware store colour charts? - no matter what you buy it always comes out orange??) But you get the idea, if all else fails I'll add some charcoal stain in between coats. - So still a bit of a work in progress but meanwhile; a nice place to catch the morning sun. :0)

The beautiful hexagon cushion was courtesy of SewPaintIt.

 Just for fun check out my previous posts...

"When I was a Super Hero..."

 Or click here to look at my previous efforts of making random stuff.