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  :-)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A delectable giveaway and my friend…

I’m experimenting today and writing this post using Windows Live Writer!  So far so good… and thank you SO much for your wonderful words of wisdom regarding my blogger formatting problems!

I am SO excited!  So, SO excited!  But not for me (although I do have some exciting news to share with you about me soon!) but for my darling and talented friend, Kerryanne of Shabby Art Boutique.  For Kerryanne has launched the most gorgeous new website for her well-loved company, Woodberry Designs {by the Sea}. 

kerryannes website launch

Go take a look and feast your eyes on all the pretties on offer – the most beautiful shabby chic original paintings – painting and sewing patterns – faux cakes (droooool)… and more eye candy than you can shake a stick at! (Editor: why would you want to shake a stick?) (Vikki – I really don’t know, it’s just an old saying!)  (Editor:  Ok, then, we’ll leave it in.) (Vikki: Why, thank you!)

To celebrate, Kerryanne is having a delectable giveaway and I’ll give you a clue… YUM YUM!!! {insert rubbing tummy in clockwise direction, here!}  But before I show you photos of the giveaway treats, I’d like to share some of Kerryanne’s designs with you!

First off, is this amazing original painting of Kerryanne’s on a vintage wooden box.  Mr SUDs was in awe when I brought this piece home with me from Kerryanne’s studio! 

Cups and strawberries box

What do I use it for?  To store my paints in, of course!  It lives in my craft space usually but the light isn’t very good in that room so we took these pics outside.

Paint box inside

The reason I store my paints in it is because I took decorative painting lessons with Kerryanne while she lived in Melbourne.  Here is a gorgeous Santa canvas I painted, one of Kerryanne’s designs of course!

Believe canvas

It won’t be long and I’ll be putting it up on my wall for a few weeks longer!!! I’m painting some teacups at the moment, but will show you more on that when I’m closer to completion.  I also plan to paint (and sew) some designs from Kerryanne’s Whimsical Christmas Doodles book, here, I’ll show you…

xmasd doodles

This is a fantastic book, and great for sewers as well as painters, for you can trace and stitch the designs.  :-)  (Click on the above image to take you to get more info)

Now you know why I’m so excited about Woodberry Designs on the Sea!!!  And here’s the giveaway details:




See, I told you it was delectable and yummy didn’t I?!  How good are those faux cakes? And how stunning is that original work of art?  I think I may have just put on another kilo from *looking* at them! he he he…

Okay, I won’t keep you any longer as I know you’re just busting to get on over and visit my dear friend!  Just click here!

Until next time – happy drooling!  Hugs! Vikki x

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tips, magazines, some advice, and a Seagull?

Tonight I wanted to share a couple of tips with you. It's not rocket-science, just a couple of simple things that help me in my day-to-day crafting journey.

Do you keep your large scraps of fabric and create new projects from them? I discovered that storing my leftover (project) fabrics in a plastic zip-lock bag and including a note with the name of the fabric range and the DMC (or other stranded thread) numbers and colours used, saves time when you want to whip-up something quick.

This came in useful just recently when I made another project from an 'older project' stash (the travel journal tutorial). It saves time hunting around for co-ordinating threads and fabrics.

My second tip is borne from the problem I have in being 'one of those people' who puts things down and then can not find them again. :-) Does that describe you too? It was only last week that I came up with this idea. {Insert lightbulb here!} Put everything that you're using for one project on to a transparent plastic *lid* (the type you get to go on top of plastic storage containers). So you know it is all in the one place, you can see what is beneath it, and can move it from one spot to another with ease.

Here's a pic of some of the goodies I'm using in my Christmas designs... I can pick up the entire project, at a moment's notice, to make space on my desk for something else... to use my computer and keyboard for example...

I haven't *lost* (oops, I mean 'mislaid!) anything since I've been doing this! Touch Wood!!! I do tidy the project away in a zip-lock bag when not in use. This is just to work more efficiently when I'm "in progress!"

Moving on to magazines... don't you just *love* them???? I do! There's been a lot of conversation in blogland lately about 'what do you do when you have too many magazines?' and magazine storage in general. I have to say, I keep all of mine. They are like books that I return to time and time again. I know that I'll probably not have time to make all of the projects I love, but I sure do enjoy looking at them! I never cut up my magazines, take projects out of them, or remove the ads. I derive as much enjoyment from the ads as I do from everything else!

So I file them by magazine title and volume in file holders, and attach 'sticky notes' to the projects I love, with a brief message or reminder so I can 'flick' through them to find the one I want. Like this:

An even more closer-upper-er!

Sometimes I wish I were more organised (ie. knew exactly where everything was), but the thing is I kinda love the thrill of not knowing! Of flicking through an old mag and finding something that had not interested me in the past. Tastes change all the time. I also keep a separate file holder to contain all the magazines with 'projects to make next' in them. I'm not sure that system works very well however, as I just want to keep cramming more and more magazines in to that one! Lol...

Do you remember in my last post I asked you to guess what this is???

Karen thought it was a penguin (Yes, I can see that too Karen, how cute!!!) and the majority of you thought it was a seagull - and you were right! In fact, Cheryl, was spot-on because she guessed it was a seagull casting its shadow from standing on a transparent roof! This sea-faring feathered friend was standing on a tarp* and cast a shadow of his feet and little bottom! Can you see it now? :-)

* For those of you who are unsure what a tarp is, here is one pictured below - it's a temporary canvas-like shade cloth.

A few weeks ago I showed you some new fabrics designed by
Rosalie Quinlan. Remember these?

One lovely lady asked me where the fabrics could be purchased online and I've since discovered you can buy online from
Quilt Fabric Delights. I hope this helps. I was fortunate enough to get my goodies 'hot off the press' at my local patchwork store, Patchwork with Gail B, which stocked the full range soon after release. I gifted half my booty to a special young friend, Jenny's daughter, Blossom. She made all the 'blog buttons' (including mine) for the Gum Tree Designers and is a very talented young designer, herself!

Now, I would just like to ask some advice from anyone with a Blogger blog! I have so many troubles formatting my posts. It takes me longer to format the post than it does to write it! The paragraph breaks are either non existent or too far apart and I have to go into Edit Html all the time to re-jig things about. It takes what feels like forever! Also, the photographs can't be moved around easily. I can't copy and paste them, so I have to try and get them in the right order to begin with otherwise I'm in a pickle! Has anybody else had this problem? Do you know how to fix it? Any advice would be gratefully received!!

Right - I'm off to go spend a couple of hours formatting this post (giggle!!) and then I'm going to do some.... sewing!!!! And probably some emailing too... What are you up to?!!

Until next time - hugs! - Vikki xx


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