Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter egg decoration tutorial

I don't usually decorate for easter, but I kept seeing pictures of easter egg trees around the internet. They are pretty cute, and really, why turn down an opportunity to make a little tree and hang decorations from it? Read on to find out how I made these cute little egg decorations.

I used Liquid Pearls to paint tiny flower designs on the eggs. These eggs happen to be plastic, but you could go old school and blow the yolks out of some real eggs too.

Liquid Pearls are a really handy craft product to have lying around! I've used them on all sorts of things from cards to candles. They are a dimensional pearly paint, which you squeeze on in a little blob and it stays raised up when dry. (Here is a good place to buy Liquid Pearls.) You will also need some plastic craft eggs, wooden skewers, thin satin ribbon, and glue.

You can use as many or as few colours as you like. My eggs were different colours, so I used several different paint colours as well. If your eggs are all white, it could look nice to just use two or three paint colours for the flowers. The colours I used were Buttercup, Baby Blue, Lavender Lace, Mint, and Petal Pink.

The plastic egg will have a little hole in one end. Wedge the wooden skewer in the hole so you have something to hold onto while you are painting the egg. (If the hole is bigger than the skewer wrap a bit of blu-tack around to secure it.)

Use the Buttercup Liquid Pearls to make dots for the centres of the flowers. Make sure they are well spaced out to allow room for petals.

Use a second colour (here I'm using Lavender Lace) to make the petals. To do this, squeeze out a dot of paint, then move the nozzle in towards the centre to extend the dot in a petal shape. Do five or six petals for each flower. Then put the end of the skewer in some blu-tack or a piece of foam or polystyrene until the paint dries.

Cut a piece of narrow satin ribbon for the hanging loop. Cut the ends of the ribbon on a sharp diagonal, then use the wooden skewer to push them into the hole in the end of the egg. Then secure with a drop or two of glue.

Make an easter egg tree by securing a couple of twiggy branches in a vase (use a flower frog to hold the branches so they don't flop around). Then decorate with your eggs. I think eggs in different sizes would look cute, and crochet flowers never go astray. This might be the first time I decorated for easter, but it won't be the last! Do you decorate? Have you ever done an easter egg tree?

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Getting things done

I've been having some busy times of late. It's that time of year when you suddenly realise you're on the cusp of winter. Pretty soon there will be no daylight in the evening, the days will be cold and short, and every odd job that's lying around will be put off till the following summer. So I've been trying to finish as many odd jobs as possible.

There's a lot to do in the garden of course, mainly weeding. Also spent annuals to clear out and replace,  winter vege seedlings to nurture, shrubs to move and bulbs to plant. In anticipation of days and nights stuck inside I've increased my houseplant collection. Some potting on and arranging needs to be done with that.

I did a bit of sewing and some Easter craft (more on that tomorrow) and the craft room is once again a bomb site. (Not that it bothers Mr Lui.) I also made hot cross buns and they were just gorgeous fresh out of the oven. I'm actually planning to let a few go stale so I can make a bread and butter pudding from them... yum!

And of course, every time I visit the potager there is end-of-season produce that needs to be dealt with...
- basil (make pesto; freeze leaves)
- tomatoes (dry; make relish; eat as many fresh as possible)
- cauliflowers (chop and freeze)
- sweet corn (remove kernels and freeze)
- some ridiculously gigantic carrots that I'd forgotten about (??? I don't even know what to do with them all! Add grated carrot to every dish I cook I suppose)
- apples (cut out codling infested bits, stew then freeze; make cider with the rubbish ones)
- peppers (chop and freeze)
- chillis (chop, carefully, wearing gloves, then freeze; dry the late ones)

So there is a pile of produce on the end of the bench awaiting my attention, and as soon as I deal with one thing then another takes its place. Can't complain too much though as I'll be heading into winter with a freezer full of my own produce, and that thought is very satisfying.

I've been a bit late with replying to comments and visiting other blogs. Sorry about that... I don't think it will be long before the change of seasons means I'm spending much more time on the computer. Until then I'll be outside enjoying the golden days of autumn or in the kitchen dealing with my harvest.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Corners of my home: craft room

I recently spent a bit of time tidying up my craft room. I use the term 'tidying up' loosely, as it will never be completely tidy in there, just that the random piles of stuff have been swept together to make neater piles and a few things have been hidden under the table instead of on top. Anyway, it's as presentable as it gets, so I thought I'd share a few photos.

The white cabinet is one that I refurbished. It was a dark wood that was scratched and water stained. It has lovely leadlight doors that I still need to paint... this should actually be added to my unfinished projects list as it's certainly been sitting there long enough. It holds all my vases and display stuff and makes a perfect spot for Mr Lui to sun himself.

As you can see this is a lovely sunny room with great light all day long. The stack of vintage suitcases holds yarn, ribbons and gift wrapping supplies. On my desk I have little drawers for beads, stamps, stickers and papercraft supplies.

Artwork and knick knacks to inspire.

This is the fabric storage wardrobe. Yes, that is a power cord coming out the bottom... for some bizarre reason the only power point in this room is in the wardrobe.

I used to keep all my fabric in plastic storage bins, all stacked up on top of each other. When I wanted to use them I had to drag them all out and dig through like a puppy. So, I bought some cheap bookcases from The Warehouse, laid them on top of each other, and then I was able to organise and arrange the fabrics by colour and fabric type. Now it's so much easier to see what I have!

As soon as the photos were taken I began using the room again and it soon regressed to its natural state. Currently the sewing machine is out, the ironing board is out and covered with fabric scraps and sewing detritus, and the floor and every available surface is piled with more junk in need of organising. I envy people who can be tidy while they craft... that certainly isn't me!

Friday, 15 March 2013

March flowers

Late summer in the garden... the time when summer flowers begin to fade but autumn's splendour hasn't yet set in. It's hard to find flowers to photograph that haven't been around for months, so here we have more roses and carnations and echinacea. I did find my little patch of autumn cyclamens in full bloom amongst the violets, and the NZ cranberry (Chilean guava) bush is covered in sweet red berries which smell as good as any flower. Here in New Zealand the hot dry summer continues, with drought conditions being declared over most of the country. In Canterbury we've been lucky and though it's been dry, we aren't yet in a state of drought. Still we are all crossing our fingers for rain.

How are things in your garden this season? I'm linking up to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day as usual.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

12 Unfinished Projects - #2

 At long last the white polka dot skirt is finished. It wasn't a difficult project but it was definitely time consuming, and while I'm reasonably happy with it I'm not sure if the time spent made it a whole lot better than if I'd used a simpler pattern. I do like the length of it though and the high waistband is perfect for accenting with a belt.

 This is the pattern I used. I found it when I was cleaning out my craft room. I don't remember how I came to have it, but it's from 1974. It had a instruction sheet which was fairly self explanatory, although I had to refer to some other books for help with the zipper. It only took me 3 attempts to get that in, and it's just a little wonky! In the end the skirt was a little snug around the hips and a little loose in the waist. I could probably spend a bit more time fixing it but you know... I'm kind of over it now. If I find some great fabric I may make another one and I should be able to do it a lot quicker! 

 According to the pattern this skirt is 'mini length'. I must say I like this length a lot better than today's mini skirts, which are almost indecent a lot of the time. Seems to be the only length available in many shops too. All the more reason to sew your own.

 I made several skirts over the summer, starting with this super easy one that turned out to be my favourite. It's from Issue 16 of Mollie Makes magazine, which they excerpted from Sew What You Love by Tanya Whelan. Basically you just cut out a simple skirt shape, sew up the side seams, then machine stitch shirring elastic round and round the top until you have about 6 rows to make your waistband. (Here's a basic video that shows sewing with shirring elastic:

For this skirt, since it was a practice one I used a sheet that I'd bought at the op shop. It turned out to be lovely and soft and light to wear, perfect for summer... and it hardly cost anything.

After that I made this polka dot number with a cute ruffle at the bottom. I have plans for more skirts of different lengths with bigger ruffles, pockets, lace trims and ribbon trims. But for now of course, I have to get going on March's unfinished project which is going to be the rag doll. (I'm planning to sew her a mini shirred skirt!)

Do you sew any of your own clothes? What's your favourite pattern?

Monday, 4 March 2013

Sun dried tomatoes recipe

 Here's the easy recipe for my sun dried tomatoes. Disclaimer - they aren't actually dried in the sun! You could do that I'm sure (in fact I've read that you can leave them in your car on a hot sunny day) but since I happen to have a dehydrator I do it that way. You could also use your oven.

Get as many cherry tomatoes as you can find and slice them about 8mm thick. (If you just cut them in half there will be more flesh and they will take longer to dry.) Put them in a bowl or plastic bag with 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp dried (or a bit more fresh) oregano, 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 tbsp oil, 2 tbsp caster sugar, and toss to coat. (Don't throw away the flavoured oil... it is great for a stir fry base or for frying up eggs and bacon and tomatoes!)

Spread the tomato slices on a dehydrator or oven tray and dry at 60C. I put mine on at about 6pm and left them overnight, so probably about 14 hours. Check them after about 10 hours, you may find that some pieces have dried and the rest need a few more hours.

To store I just put them in a ziplock bag and freeze. They defrost quickly, or you can speed things up by running them under hot water. Enjoy a little piece of summer in salads, pasta, sandwiches and pizza in the depths of winter.

Friday, 1 March 2013


The end of the month has come and gone, so where is my finished project? I'm still working on it... but I'm nearly there! I've sewn a zipper and I just have to do the waistband. Then will come the moment of truth... trying it on...

In the meantime I've coated some cherry tomatoes in oil, garlic, oregano and a dash of salt and sugar and put them in my dehydrator. Dried tomatoes are my little wintertime treat for those sad days when I can't have them fresh.

Well, let's hope the sewing gods smile on me this weekend. I'll let you know soon!


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