Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Santa’s little helper!

vikki handface header

Sorry… we need to do a few jobs first!

Like fold the washing…

vikki handface cholthes

(Oops!  Did you put your toupee in the wash?!)

And then give our friends a tour of our special tree ornaments…


Including the little fairy that has adorned Vikki’s family Christmas tree for as long as she can remember… and…

Sharon ornie

This cheerful bear that her dear friend, Sharon, painted for her a couple of years ago… and…

painted santa ornie

The first decoration she painted herself!  And…

Linda xmas ornie

This cute love-heart that her darling sister, Linda, sent from England. Linda has the same decoration so that they can each gaze upon their heart and know the other sister has been doing the same!!  And…

Aaron xmas ornie

One of the most treasured of all… the glittered cardboard star that her DS, Aaron, made for her when he was aged Four.  It has perched on the tree for eight years now! 

Okay… now it’s time for tea…

vikki handface cuppa

vikki h andface drinking

You have been such a good hand this year, sewing and making and pouring cups of tea…

…so what would you like to ask Santa for this Christmas?

Rosie handface


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas treats!

Gosh, it’s hard to believe it has been two weeks since my last post… where has the time gone?!

For me, the time has gone to good use!  Making special gifts for friends and family, socialising with those I hold dear, cooking and baking, wrapping and card-writing… I could go on – but don’t worry – I won’t! he he…

My family and I caught up with our group of friends yesterday for a Xmas picnic lunch, and I made the always-asked-for Feta and Rosemary stuffed cherry tomatoes:


They really are very tasty!  Would you like the recipe?

Ingredients:  24 large cherry tomatoes; 100g soft Feta,crumbled (about 1 cup); A few sprigs of chopped fresh rosemary; Approx 2 tablespoons basil (or black olive) tapenade

Method: Wash tomatoes and remove the stalks.  Turn the tomatoes upside down so the stalk-side is at the bottom.  Now cut a cross in the top of each (but do not cut completely down the tomato).  In a small bowl, combine the Feta and chopped rosemary.  Spoon a small amount of tapenade in to each tomato and top with the Feta mixture.  Place on a greased oven tray and cook in a hot oven (200c)for approx. 25 minutes, or until tomatoes are just tender.  Serve warm or cold, garnished with a little extra fresh rosemary.

Before I left the house for the get-together my dining table looked like this:

Xmas wrappings

What do your tables look like at this time of the year?  I bet they’re tidier than mine! LOL…

Rosie and I received some exciting parcels in the post this week too!  Rosie’s special little friends in South Australia made her a cute ornament for our tree – one that will be treasured for years to come!  Here is Rosie putting it on the tree…

Rosie on tree

And here is a pic of the little angels who made it for her!  Their mum, is the gorgeous Dawn, a fellow gum tree designer, and she is an absolute angel, too! :-)  Thank you darling girls!!! {Hugs!}

he he he… I must share this!  As I write, Rosie has been running around with a a small blanket in each hand, flapping her little arms and pretending she is a fly!  I stopped writing and have been chasing her around with an imaginary can of fly spray (making “pshhh” noises) and she has been giggling her little head off!  Ahh – kids are so much fun aren’t they?!!!

Getting back to Christmas treats!!!! The second surprise I’d like to share with you was from the lovely Deb in New Zealand.  I opened her parcel to be greeted with this beautifully wrapped gift…

Deb ornie wrapped

And opened it to reveal this stunning hanging heart ornament…

Deb ornie on tree 

Deb chose the Dickins quote especially because I am English!  Thank you darling Deb!!! {{Hugs}}!!

Gosh I feel so spoiled!  Next time we chat I will show you some more of my precious Xmas ornaments.  For me, Christmas is about remembering the ones we love, sometimes it’s hard not to get caught up with the busy-ness (is that a word?) of the crazy season – but it’s because we like to “give” that it becomes crazy!  I have quite a few sentimental ornaments that have been made or gifted to me, and it’s wonderful that each year they trigger special memories… they are what I will share with you!

Until next time – enjoy the season!!! 

Hugs! Vikki xo

Saturday, December 5, 2009

RAKs, a ‘win’ and a secret fairy house!

I had just written my blog post when we had a power cut! LOL… yes… you’ve guessed right – the post wasn’t saved! So here I am again with ‘take two’! Although, I have a prediction as to why the power went out…

I reckon Clerk Griswald is on vacation in Australia and must have turned on the Xmas lights down the end of our street!! Do you love that film as much as I do? National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, with Chevy Chase? It’s a ‘must watch’ every December in the SUDs household!!

Anyhow, before I was so rudely interrupted *giggle* I was just telling you how beautiful, kind, caring, warm and considerate you all are! But you knew that already didn’t you? *smiles*.

I had a wonderful and heart-warming surprise last Friday afternoon when a parcel arrived all the way from the lovely Dolores, in Canada. This is what Dolores kindly sent me:


An incredible embroidery magazine that I’ve never seen on the news–stands in Aus; some green and pink fat quarters (my favourite colours – as Dolores knows!); and some ‘kitty’ fabric for my DD, Rosie. Thank you SO much Dolores!!! You’re so very kind and thoughtful! Knowing how much Rosie loves her kitties and sending her some fabric was so very touching {hugs!}. So, I wasted no time at all in whipping-up some little blankets, pillows and sheets for Rosie’s two favourite kitty toys. Here they are tucked up in their beds…

Kitties in beds

I’ll let you into a little tip for having non-bumpy stuffing in little ‘things’ such as these pillows… adhere a fusible wadding to the back of the fabric prior to cutting and sewing. When you ‘stuff’ the pillow, the fabric will already have a nice thick layer over it so any lumps and bumps won’t show through.

This isn’t the only Random Act of Kindness I have encountered as a blogger… several weeks ago my dear and darling friend, Simone, sent me a ‘kit’ to make some cute pixie dolls for Rosie. Simone made these for her own children when they were young… and I feel so incredibly humbled that I will follow in Simone’s footsteps to create these delightful characters for my very own little real-life pixie!

100_1717 100_1721

The kit is to make the little pixies and mushroom in the left-hand picture – aren’t they just adorable? The other picture is a beautiful card containing something even more precious… Simone’s love! I am really excited about getting ‘stuck into’ this project… and it’s getting higher and higher on my ‘to do’ list! Thank you SO much, Simone!!! {hugs!}

I really have been blessed haven’t I? Not just with such beautiful gifties but with the friendship of such thoughtful and loving ladies! Now I am going to share one more of my blessings with you… I was one of seven lucky winners to receive some glorious fabric from Homespun’s competition: “hope chest”…


The fabric range is called Roses de Noel from Dayview Textiles and I now have 32 fat quarters to play with! My intention is to make two quilts – one for Rosie and the other to be donated to charity.

Hey – this will tickle you! I was attempting to be creative when taking photos of the fabric so added my ‘wooden shoe-makers’ mold’ into the mix!


I bought the “shoe” from here because I loved it’s worn charm, but since doing so I’ve never really quite found the right place to display it… or the inspiration for what to display it with! Any suggestions?!!

Talking of suggestions… can I ask for a few more?!! Cheeky aren’t I? Just as cheeky as one of Simone’s little pixies!! he he he…

I am finishing a fairy house for Rosie this Christmas (Shhh!!!) and thought I’d try some ribbon embroidery around the outside walls of the house to give it some textural charm.



However, this is my first attempt at ribbon embroidery and I think I’ve made the spider roses a bit too big! Do you think I should continue on… or do you think I should undo the roses and add some buttons instead? To get a better idea, click on this link (if you want to of course! What a bossy boots I am!) and it will take you to a previous post about the two fairy houses I have already made (from a pattern by Julie McCulloch).

Righto – I’m off to sup on some more flu remedy and then I might sneak in a bit of sewing before bedtime!

Are you enjoying the Advent posts on Among the Gum Trees? I hope so! :-)

Warm wishes my dear friends!

And Hugs… *always* Hugs!! Vikki x

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Christmas shopping in Them Thar’ Hills!

Yesterday saw me and my DD Rosie, taking a drive in the Dandenong Ranges to my most favourite hill-side suburb, Sassafras.  There are some absolutely beautiful shops in this country-style setting and the shop-owners kindly agreed for me to take some photos to share with you.

Our first stop was the Sassafras Sweet Co

Sassafras lolly shopfront

…an old-fashioned lolly (sweet/candy) shop where sweets are stored in glass lolly jars on wooden shelves. 

Sassafras lolly shop 1 Sassafras lolly shop 2

Being an expat, it is the place for me to visit when I need “a fix” of English sweeties!  For you expats out there – do you remember these??

Sassafras revels

Revels, Star Bars, Lion Bars and Drifters were among the British confectionary for sale!

Next stop was for my sweet Rosie.  This is an amazing toy/puppet shop called Gepetto’s Workshop

Sassafras gepettos sign 

I used to buy my son’s favourite dragon puppets from this store, although he has outgrown his ‘dragon’ phase now (I haven’t!).  Gepetto’s sells a full range of Folkmanis puppets and they are exceptional in every way possible.  Check out this link if you want to see more from Folkmanis (and don’t forget to scope out the dragons!!!)

Sassafras puppets

Sassafras kitty puppet

This kitty puppet really wanted to follow us home… who knows… he might sneak a lift with Father Christmas some time soon! :-)

We left the store with one small purchase and lots of Christmas inspiration, and took a walk past Miss Marples Tea Rooms to our final destination.

Sassafras miss marples

This quaint store – aptly named, Tea Leaves -  is full of the finest china and an endless array of loose-leaf teas, coffees and chocolates… ornate tea strainers, mugs, and even miniature porcelain tea services for display in dolls houses!

Tea shop outsideSassafras teashop counterSassafras teapots 2

Sassafras teapots

Gorgeous hey?  Tea Leaves also has an online store that you can check out here.  I came away with a little bag of goodies, sorry I cant’ show you as they are intended for Christmas gifts!

Ooh – I also really wanted to show you these delightful ornaments by Jim Shore that were on display in the Gepetto’s store window:

Sassafras Jim Shore

I have a small collection of Jim Shore Christmas ornaments and WOW – would I love to add these to it!!!  If you are interested in seeing more, check out the Jim Shore website, here.  His designs are whimsical, beautiful, endearing, detailed and utterly *magical*!

Gosh I’ve got so much more to catch up on but instead of writing an incredibly long post, I’ll write more regularly this week instead!  How’s your Christmas shopping going?  Are you ‘nearly there’?!!

Until next time – festive hugs!  Vikki x

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Giveaway winner announced and candles

Thank you so much to everyone who left a message on my giveaway post, and to those who thanked me for the free design on Among the Gum Trees! Your positive response has filled me full of warmth and humility. THANK YOU! :-)

I sat at my computer this morning and chose three winners using the True Random Number Generator:

Random generator 2

The first number drawn was no.2, left by Sue of I Purr Furr to Craft.

Random generator 36

The next number drawn was no. 36 left by Laila of Lailas Lapper.

Random generator 68

The final number drawn was no. 68, left by Michelle (no blog).

Congratulations ladies, I shall email you with the two pattern designs this evening!

For anyone wishing to purchase my designs, they are available in my ETSY store (just click on the button below to take you there). Both designs will be published next year in Country Threads and Handmade magazines - Just a reminder for the Aussies among you who may want to wait until the magazines are on the shelf!

Winter etsy shop button

Well, I have had a busy afternoon and learned the fundamentals of a new craft!

I met up with four dear friends (the girls I used to go painting with at Kerryanne’s studio), and the lovely Karen taught us how to make scented soy candles. It was so much fun!

But that wasn’t the only treat! Marisa and Anne are attending a ‘chocolate-making’ short-course at the moment and Marisa brought along some cute and mouth-watering delights.

Christmas puddings 1

The chocolate-coated Xmas puddings contained either marshmallow or mixed-fruit (soaked in Port). They were delish! Not to mention cute – have I said that already?!!

Anne made a beautiful moist Hummingbird cake:

Hummingbird cake

Then after we’d finished lunch and cake we had our first lesson in candle-making!

We prepared the first ‘batch’ of candles (or rather, Karen did! Don’t you just love that “Universal WE”?!!) and chose ‘spiced orange’ for the fragrance, and added some orange dye to the soy. Here is an example of one candle, poured into the glass votive and cooling. The wick is held in place with a wooden lolly stick that has a hole drilled in it.

cooling candle

As it solidifies, the soy begins to lighten in colour and looks like this:

cooled candle

There was no waste either - as the soy that was left over was poured into these latex “ice cube” moulds - and will be used as “melts” in our oil burners.

candle melts

I need to wait 3-4 days before I can burn my candles, to give them time to cure. They smell wonderful already, even before they’re lit!

What have you been up to this weekend? Whatever you do, I wish you every happiness!

Until next time – warm ‘orange-spice’-filled hugs! Vikki x

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Etsy shop opens and a “close-up”

I had planned to open the doors of my Etsy shop on Saturday morning after the giveaway draw, but since receiving requests from people asking where they can buy my patterns… I’ve decided to open the doors early!

I am offering the Seasonal Notes pattern at a reduced price of $6.50 and I shall run this sale until the end of November; after which the pattern will sell for $9.50.

Also, to be fair to Australasians, the Seasonal Notes design will be published in Country Threads next year… and the A Mothers Love will be published in Handmade.  If you subscribe to either of these magazines you may want to wait for the designs to be published… but by all means purchase the pattern now if you would like to.  I just want to be fair :-)

Just click HERE to visit my Etsy store!

Here is a close-up of the Mother and baby in my stitchery design, I know it can be difficult to see outlines with skin tones.  I shall be stitching this design again in blue-work in the near future, and will show you the results when it’s finished!  I’m advised that stitcheries are one of the most difficult ‘pieces’ to photograph! 

A mothers love close up faces

Okay – I’ll see you on Saturday morning!!  I’ll put the kettle on and make some yummy treats shall I?!

Until next time – hugs!  Vikki x

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New pattern launch and a giveaway!

Thank you SO much for your very kind words about my free Christmas design (as blogged about yesterday!) I am so glad you like it. :-) I received lots of comments from lovely ladies wanting to make them for their grandchildren to hang on the tree this year… and that really touched my heart! When my sweet little daughter hangs our ornament on the tree, I will think of you! :-)

I’d love to see your finished creations so please drop me an email with a pic! Or better still, you can upload photos to the Among the Gum Trees flickr group. :-)

It’s Giveaway Time!

To celebrate the launch of my two new designs, I am having a giveaway! {{{How exciting!}}}

So without further ado, let me introduce you to my festive notebook entitled “Seasonal Notes”

Seasonal Notes cover with copyright

Do you like it? I think the Red Robin is singing a very pretty song to the happy snowman. Just check out that smile!!

“Seasonal Notes” is a felt and fabric covered notebook with detachable rings – so you can write your Christmas shopping lists… or make notes for your letter to Santa… and still use it next year when all the pages run out – because they can be replaced. :-) It has a double use too – because when you’re not writing in its pages, you can sit it on a table or shelf and admire it as an ornament.

My second design has a serene beauty about it… I was doodling one day and from the end of my pencil came this beautiful young mother nursing her baby… and the scene unfolded around them. This stitchery design is called “A Mothers Love”

A mothers love cropped

I think it would be nice stitched into a cushion or pillow – perhaps a wall-hanging - or even a journal cover for an expectant mum-to-be.

I have decided to give away both patterns for these designs to three lucky readers. All you need to do is leave a comment on THIS blog post. If you do not have a blog, no worries, just make sure you leave your email address in the comment so that I can contact you.

The giveaway closes on Saturday 21st November, 10am Melbourne Time.

Warm wishes – and Good Luck! Vikki x

Monday, November 16, 2009

It’s my turn for the Xmas freebie!

Hello friends!  Gosh, hasn’t this ‘crazy time of the year’ come around so quickly!?  It won’t be long now until we put the Christmas decorations up and start slurping on the egg-nog! :-)

Have you visited the branches of Among the Gum Trees yet?  Today is my turn for the Xmas freebie and I really hope you like it.  I decided to create a hanging ornament, just click on the picture below and you can download it.  :-)

Red Robin kisses copyright

I have been working like a trooper this past few weeks on many new designs, most of which have been for magazine commissions.  Kept that one quiet didn’t I?!! :-) I did share my news with some close friends, but I kind of felt a bit shy sharing it with a wider audience.  Crazy eh?!  Anyway – I have even more exciting news because {insert drum roll here!}I am launching the first two (of many) Sew Useful Designs patterns in my etsy shop….. TOMORROW!!!

Fancy a sneak peek?

Seasonal notes teaser

How about a little clue?

Xmas list seasonal notes

And because I am crazily excited about sharing my designs with you I have decided to have a little giveaway with them!  So for now I will say Adios, and look forward to catching up again tomorrow!

Ooh, but before I go, I must share with you that Windows Live Writer is an absolute breeze!  Thank you so much Vicki for putting me on to it, my fellow gumnut friend! he he he…  I am a very happy bunny!  Or should I say “I’m a very happy Red Robin”, considering the current season?!

Much love to you all from a very excited Vikki x  :-)


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