A Gift of Love

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A few weeks ago I became aware that one of my former colleagues is expecting her first child.  As I had done for another colleague, I offered to make a quilt for her forthcoming addition to the family.

I dived into my stash for a selection of suitable fabrics and bought 2 small pieces to supplement what I had on hand.

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The first block completed.

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All of the patchwork done.  Now to make it into a quilt.

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The mum-to-be was delighted with the end result.

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It is special to be able to use my sewing skills to make unique gifts from materials which would otherwise be likely to end up in landfill.

Another Quilt


No, this is not turning into a quilting and patchwork blog, however, I am making another quilt using the same techniques as the one I have just finished.  This is for another work colleague – a retirement gift this time.

It is very different colours – generally autumn tones.

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Here are some of the squares cut out.  I had some of the fabric in my stash but nowhere near enough as it is not the colours I tend to use.  The remainder is made up of some new fabric specifically for the project as well as some that I found on an op shop crawl this morning.  We are fortunate to have no fewer than 4 op shops in the small town near where we live.

I spent the afternoon and evening cutting out and piecing fabric. It is coming together nicely and these are the first 5 completed blocks.  There are another 11to do before I arrange them to get the best balance of colours.

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While I was hunting out suitable fabric at an op shop, this piece caught my eye.

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A 1 metre length of brand new cotton fabric which is 112cm wide.  It cost me 50c and will be used to make a sleeveless shirt for me.

The other thing I bought was not fabric so I will save the story of that for another blog post.


A Touch of Luxury


Tonight I had a quick rummage in my stash and found a couple of offcuts of silver panne velvet.  This was perfect for my latest project. I wanted to make some little presentation pouches for the pieces of upcycled jewellery which I have for Christmas gifts.

It did not take much fabric or time to make these up.

Packing the contents.


All done and ready for giving.


Rather than trying to create drawstrings, I decided to anchor the ribbon tie with a few stitches on one side of the pouch and then simply gather it up and tie.

The satin ribbons came from my collection.  The black and cream ties are bits salvaged from when I cut them off the shoulder seams of purchased tops.

Food for Thought


Every now and then I come across a discussion or comment (either in real life or on an internet forum) that stops me dead in my tracks.

The other day I read a comment where a teacher asked about a remark made by another teacher, that she would never eat any home-baked gift that was given to her and simply threw them out.

2015-11-14 01As if that was not enough to throw me for six, I was astounded by the robust online discussion that ensued.

Some of the issues that were raised included not buying home-made cakes from cake stalls, the hygiene standards of the kitchen, not eating anything from anyone unless you had intimate knowledge of their home and kitchen and so on.

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Do these people ever attend a function where people bring a plate of food to share?  Are their children allowed to attend birthday parties, where, heaven forbid, there may be home-made food?  What about class parties at the end of term?

2015-11-14 02I can well understand people with food allergies being unable to accept food gifts but some of the other issues just seemed over-the-top to me.

I was not alone in my response as there were others (teachers and others) who said they welcomed and appreciated the home-made baking that was made and given with love.

Then the conversation headed in another direction as to the reason for giving gifts to teachers as they are ‘only doing their job’ and get paid like every other employee in any line of work.

Am I naive?  What do you think?  I am particularly interested to hear from teachers as well as parents who have given home-baked gifts.  Will this revelation change your plans for Christmas gifts?

Christmas Shopping


Yes, you read the title correctly.

I did some Christmas shopping yesterday.  Belle and I had previously discussed the possibility of taking the girls to see ‘The Lion King’ when it comes to Sydney at the end of the year.

I received an email advising of the pre-sale release of tickets for ‘The Lion King’ so I have bought tickets to the show for Miss O and Izz for Christmas.  Belle and I will take them to Sydney to see the matinee session on New Year’s Day.

By being organised I was able to take advantage of the pre-sale offer and have managed to get excellent seats at reasonable prices.

2012-02-28 01This is a perfect solution as we will not see the children on Christmas Day this year, nor do they need any more ‘stuff’.  Experiences such as attending live theatre and musicals provide so much joy and the benefits are immeasurable.   Miss O is still talking about when she saw ‘Mary Poppins’ 18 months ago.  How many toys have that sort of longevity?

An ‘Experience’ Gift


I have started introducing my granddaughters to gifts of experiences rather than more and more stuff.

I bought tickets to shows for them both for Christmas and today was Miss O’s turn.  We went to Sydney for the day to see the stage production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

First, there was a plane to catch.

2013-01-08 01We also managed a ferry ride on the harbour.

2013-01-08 02All that sightseeing works up an appetite.

2013-01-08 03Finally, it was time for the show.

2013-01-08 04It was a big day!!

2013-01-08 05A unique and unforgettable experience.  Apart from the actual show we really enjoyed the quality one-on-one time.

Experience gifts can be as simple or extravagant as you choose.

How Green Was My Christmas?


Well, Christmas is over for another year and I hope it was a good one for you and your families.

One of my goals was to reduce our overall environmental impact from the festivities so it is probably time to review what I did and whether it made a difference.

Cards – I only sent 11 Christmas cards by post this year.  This is a significant reduction over the years.  There was a time when I posted between 50 and 60 cards each year.  I sent ecards and emails with our family newsletter.  These are generally well-received, save time and money for me, reduce clutter for the recipient.  I will continue to do this.

Gift-wrapping – this year I made fabric gift bags to use which seems to have been successful in making a significant reduction in the amount of wrapping paper which ended up in the recycling bin.  There was still some from gifts we received but that may change in time, who knows?  Perhaps I will make some for Belle to use next year as well.

Gifts – I made a few hand-made gifts and also a couple of experience gifts and some Oxfam Unwrapped gifts which seemed to please the recipients.  I need to plan my handmade items a bit further in advance next year.  I received a couple of practical and requested gifts so I was very happy.  A bathmat, colander, air mattress, gluten-free sauce and dressing and a Kathmandu voucher as well as a promise of dinner when we are next in Melbourne.  We do not want to be overwhelmed by ‘stuff’ and my family understand that. Yay!!

Food – we made a conscious effort not to over-cater and were mostly successful.  I have fruit cake leftover as well as a little smoked salmon and some cold, grilled chicken.  All of this will be stored appropriately and used to avoid any waste.  We had a special meal with close family but did not over-indulge.  Next year I would like to try to be more organised with my garden and be able to use more home-grown produce.

I am pretty happy with our achievements and will continue to  work on improving each year.

I would love to hear about your celebrations – what worked and what didn’t?

Gift Giving


Even though I do not buy many gifts it can still be a challenge to find the perfect gift.  I try to make choices that fit with my values and will be truly appreciated by the recipient.

This year The Duke and I have agreed that we are not buying ‘stuff’ for each other and that our trip to the USA was our gift to each other.

Belle, Missy and my immediate family will receive a combination of money, home-made goodies and Oxfam Unwrapped gifts.  These are well worth checking out if you are not familiar with the concept.


Miss O and Izz have more than enough toys and clothes so I bought them each a special Christmas ornament when we were overseas and also a couple of cloth badges.  I have recently given them the camp blankets which belonged to Belle and Missy when they were younger and collected badges.  Their main gifts are experiences rather than stuff – tickets to shows.  I will take Izz to see a stage production of Hairy McLary and Miss O to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  These will both be in January and I am really looking forward to sharing the joy with each of them.

At work our team (about 10 of us) used to do a Secret Santa but a couple of years ago we all agreed that it was really unnecessary and we would make a donation to World Vision using their gift catalogue.  We have lots of fun choosing what animals we will ‘buy’.

I feel that my gift-giving will not just add more stuff to people’s lives but make a positive contribution in several ways.  It has also meant that I have no need to spend hours trawling the malls with a million other stressed shoppers so I am happy about that, too.

Christmas Countdown

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It is exactly 7 weeks until Christmas Day.  We are planning a relatively simple Christmas .  Belle and her family will be arriving in time for lunch and staying for a night or 2.  We will have 4 children under 7 with us so I am looking forward to sharing the true spirit with them.  We will also spend some time with my mother, sister and brother on either Christmas Day or Boxing Day.

Gifts – I have a couple of small items for the children and will be adding some handmade gifts as well.  None of us need more ‘stuff’.

Meals will be special but definitely not excessive.  It will also be a gluten-free menu and as much as possible,grain-free as well.

We generally do not get involved in the many Christmas parties as our focus is a small, family celebration.  The one exception is Christmas drinks with the neighbours.  We live on a long rural road and this is the only time during the year that we see some of the neighbours.  This year we are hosting the event which simply means that I will sweep the verandah and set out some extra chairs and glasses.  Everyone contributes a plate of finger food and brings their own drinks.

In the meantime, life goes on as usual.  Miss O has a birthday coming up, I have a conference to attend interstate, Missy is relocating to another city and I have deadlines to meet at work.  This is all aside from the day to day routines.

Do you have any special plans for the coming weeks?  Do you celebrate Christmas?

Caring & Sharing


Tonight I want to share a story I heard today.  While many of us have too much stuff and are constantly looking for ways to reduce the clutter in our lives there are others who could benefit greatly from things we no longer need.

Freecycle is an amazing concept which allows members of a local group to offer anything they no longer want to others in the group.  Everything is given without bias or selection criteria and today Miki* discovered the wonder of this phenomenon.  She listed several items, including 2 bicycles.  There were several responses for the bicycles and she chose a recipient who lived not far from her to take one of the bikes.  The lady collected it as arranged and later sent an email to reiterate her thanks.  Only then, did Miki find out that this lady had just lost her home due to legal wrangling beyond her control.  A bike may not seem like much recompense for a house but the lady was so thankful for Miki’s generosity of spirit and said that it restored her faith in human nature.

sharing-is-caringThis sort of story will not come to light every time you list something on Freecycle or give away unused items by other means.  You will, however, know in your heart that you have made a difference to someone’s day.  What better Christmas gift could there be?

*not her real name